Residents in Elk River apartment complex mourn loss of 8-year-old girl
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A small memorial made up of teddy bears and hand-written notes sits outside The Depot at Elk River Station apartment complex.
It’s a tribute to 8-year-old Autumn Hallow, who was found dead inside her apartment Thursday.
“My heart breaks for the mother and the family,” says Sabrina McWilliam, a frequent visitor. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
On Friday night, police arrested 30-year-old Brett Hallow and 28-year-old Sarah Hallow. Both are being held in the Sherburne County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Investigators say an autopsy has determined Autumn’s death was a homicide.
“It’s really sad, especially when it’s something so close to home,” says Nicole Robinson, who just arrived home at the complex after grocery shopping with her three young children. “My heart’s breaking for their mom and their family. Horrible.”
Police responded to a medical emergency call around 3:45 p.m. at the complex on the south side of Elk River. Arriving officers found Autumn not breathing.
They were unable to revive her.
"I’m not shocked,” McWilliam said. “Probably what makes me sick to my stomach is I’m not surprised a child died up there."
McWilliam says she often visits her sister, who lives one floor below the Hallows.
She believes other children live with them, and she says she’s heard screaming at all hours coming from upstairs.
"I don’t know about other neighbors, but I know personally, being underneath them, I’ve heard the screaming,” she explains. “I’ve sat outside and heard the cussing and screaming at these kids.”
McWilliam says she and other neighbors have called 911 and the apartment management.
When officers arrived, she says, the shouting would stop.
Robinson, meanwhile, has tried to explain to her kids why the police are in their neighborhood.
“A little bit,” she said. “I don’t want to give too many details to scare them, but yeah, a little bit. I’ve heard it’s a shock to a lot of people, but all the same thing, just really sad that it happened.”
Brett and Sarah Hallow have not been formally charged.
Public records show Brett Hallow has only minor traffic infractions on his record and that Sarah Hallow has never been charged with a crime.
Both the Elk River Police Department and the apartment complex management have been unavailable for further comment.
McWilliam, who is also a mother, says she’s haunted by what’s happened.
“It was fear in those kids’ eyes,” she said. “Between being timid and fearful, it’s not a way for kids to live.”
A GoFundMe to cover Autumn’s funeral expenses has raised more than $17,000 as of Sunday evening.