Charges filed against father, stepmother in death of 8-year-old Elk River girl
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Charges have officially been filed against two people in connection to an 8-year-old Elk River girl’s death last week.
Thirty-year-old Brett Jason Hallow and 28-year-old Sarah Kay Hallow are each charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.
According to the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, Elk River officers were called to an apartment on 172nd Avenue NW on the night of Aug. 13 for a medical emergency. When they arrived, they found Autumn Hallow not breathing. Attempts to revive her weren’t successful, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brett and Sarah Hallow were arrested the following night.
A criminal complaint states that responding officers noticed Autumn was "extremely frail and thin," and her skin was dry and hair was only slightly wet despite the initial report that she was found in a bathtub. Officers also noted that, based on the condition of her body, she’d been dead for some time.
The complaint states Sarah Hallow told officers Autumn had said she was going to take a shower and when she went to check on Autumn 40 minutes later she found her face down in the water. Brett Hallow told officers he woke up to Sarah screaming and then saw Autumn next to her on the floor.
The child’s biological mother, who hadn’t seen Autumn since the end of January, said the Hallows denied her parenting time with Autumn over the past few months, citing COVID concerns and others, the complaint states.
The following day, investigators and child protection workers interviewed the Hallows’ 6-year-old son, who said he said Brett and Sarah use a brown belt to tie Autumn up and put her in a red sleeping bag, which would move to different rooms or the bathtub. She would be tied up any time she misbehaved or urinated in her clothes. The complaint states the child also said, the morning Autumn was found dead, he heard a loud bang come from the bathroom when both Sarah and Brett were in the bathroom with Autumn. They then said Autumn had fallen down.
Sarah’s 10-year-old daughter said she saw blood in the tub and Autumn wasn’t breathing, the complaint states.
When talking to officers, Sarah denied yelling at Autumn, restraining her or putting her in a sleeping bag for discipline, which Brett also denied. She also said she didn’t know where her injuries came from or why she was losing hair and estimated Autumn weighed about 45 pounds. She said they didn’t bring her to a doctor, the complaint states.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office determined Autumn died from asphyxia injuries and blunt force trauma and ruled her death a homicide.