A disturbing story out of Phoenix, where four people are now charged for the death of their 10-year-old family member. They are accused of locking her in a storage container for the crime of taking a Popsicle.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, when Ame Deal was found dead on July 12, her family said she died accidentally while playing hide-and-seek.
But police didn't just accept that answer and pursued an investigation. What they uncovered was an awful pattern of abuse Ame suffered throughout her short life. Police say the family forced Ame to eat dog feces, sleep on the shower floor and exercise barefoot in the scorching Arizona heat.
Police say they routinely locked her in the tiny box. This time, though, she suffocated.
She weighed just 59 pounds when she died, and was wearing dirty and soiled clothing.
The girl's cousins John and Samantha Allen, both 23, reportedly confessed to putting her in the box that day. They are charged with first-degree murder. Ame's aunt and legal guardian, Cynthia Stolzmann, and her grandmother Judith Deal are charged with child abuse and kidnapping. They reportedly told police that they previously punished her by putting her in the box.
"This child died at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her," Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump told Reuters. "This case has turned the stomachs of some of the most seasoned detectives."