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Sheriff: Murder charge planned after Mississippi toddler found stabbed, burned in oven

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 18:33:57-04

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A sheriff in Mississippi said Tuesday that a first-degree murder charge is being prepared against a grandmother after her 20-month-old granddaughter was found stabbed and burned inside an oven in a home.

Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams told The Associated Press that the grandmother was taken in for questioning after the child was found dead Monday night in a home in the Mississippi Delta town of Shaw.

Williams told The Associated Press late Tuesday that deputies were still preparing the charge and that it could be filed within hours. He said he wouldn't release the names of the grandmother or the toddler until the work was complete.

"I've been doing law enforcement for 25 or 26 years now," Williams said. "This is one of the most horrible things I've seen in doing law enforcement. The hardest part ... is to see a child victim."

Spokesman Warren Strain at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety said officials are still investigating the cause of the girl's death, as well as when the girl died and whether that was before she was placed in the oven. Her body has been sent to the state Crime Lab in Pearl for an autopsy. Williams said autopsy results were not yet complete Tuesday afternoon.

Williams said the grandmother's brother found the body Monday night and called police in Shaw, a tow of about 2,000 people approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Jackson. Police in turn called the sheriff's office and others for assistance.

Williams said deputies detained the grandmother for questioning and had held her overnight. He didn't know if she had a lawyer.

"That was the only person who was there with the child at the time," Williams said.

Authorities were less clear on what led up to the death.

"That's hard to say," Williams said. "We don't know."

The sheriff said he settled on the murder charge after consulting with Bolivar County District Attorney Brenda Mitchell. Mitchell didn't immediately return a phone call and an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The child was found inside a beige frame house in the north end of Shaw. Police tape still surrounded part of the house Tuesday morning, while a stroller, a high chair, and a trash barrel of toys including a scooter sat near the curb in front of the house. Williams said those toys had belonged to the child.

A woman in Greenville, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Shaw, pleaded guilty to killing her 3-year-old son in an oven in March 2011. Terri Robinson pleaded guilty to murder in 2012 in the death of Tristan Robinson. Washington County Coroner Methel Johnson said an autopsy found Robinson had died from heat injuries sustained in an electric oven.

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