Three people have been arrested for their connection to the death of a 3-year-old boy in northeastern Indiana. Breanna J. Arnold, 21, and Zachary S. Barnes, 30, were arrested and preliminarily charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and abuse of a corpse. The boy, Owen Collins, was Arnold's son.
Police documents state that an unnamed 16-year-old was also arrested for abuse of a corpse. The teenager lived with Arnold and Barnes and served as a babysitter for Owen and his 6-year-old brother. The trio is being held for up to 72 hours without bond while police assess formal charges.
According to police, the suspects were “shooting dope” late on Friday night when Arnold went to check on her children. She found Owen dead in his room. After discussing how to dispose of his body, the suspects wrapped Owen in plastic wrap and placed him in a dresser drawer. They said they considered “chopping him up and throwing him in the river.”
On Sunday morning, more than a day after finding the dead child, Barnes said that he and the teenager placed Owen in a cardboard box. They hitched a ride from a woman and stopped near a wooded patch in Wells County. Barnes said that he brought the box into the woods, soaked it in nail polish remover and lit it on fire.
Barnes then went to visit his brother Joseph and told him that Owen had been missing since Saturday. Joseph notified several local police departments. Police went to the house where Owen had died to investigate. Arnold and her 6-year-old son were brought to the Bluffton Police Department for questioning.
During this time, Marion police found and stopped the car that Barnes and the teenager had been traveling in. The unidentified woman led police to the wooded area where Barnes had disposed of Owen.
Owen’s charred body was found at 8 p.m. on Sunday by the Bluffton Police Department and the Indiana State Police. They also discovered materials used to cook meth in the home. Barnes admitted that they had cooked meth on Friday before they found Owen dead.
Further police questioning revealed that the suspects drugged the children on numerous occasions. Barnes said they would put “dope in their bottles and watch them have fun.”
The cause of death has not been identified and could take up to two weeks to identify.