Toddler dies after being kicked in head as punishment


OSKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (CNN) – A Florida man is charged with murdering his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter after the child’s body was discovered Friday.

Adelynn Merrell’s mother has been arrested on accessory charges.

Adelynn was born in Salina and her father lives in Ellsworth.

Neighbors say they reported abuse at the home months ago. They say police gave the case to the state Department of Children and Families.

“There will never be justice. Justice is just a definition. It’s just a word,” said neighbor Allen Simmons.

Just four houses down his isolated street on the Oskaloosa-Walton County line, Simmons looks at the home Adelynn Merrell died in. Adelynn Merrell died after her mother’s boyfriend allegedly kicked the little girl in the head for getting out of her car seat.

“There’s really no words for it. If you have a heart you can answer yourself, you know? If you have kids, you’ll definitely know the feeling,” added Simmons.

With two and a half months between their call and Adelynn’s death, Simmons believes the system has failed the little girl.

“I don’t think its the sheriff’s office as much as it’s DCF,” said Simmons. “My wife was on the phone the very first morning with DCF and they said there was no need for follow-up. That’s 10 hours your kids are left alone at two and five. That’s a big follow-up.”

Neighbors say the girl’s father traveled from Kansas to take custody of her 5-year-old brother.

The following statement was provided by the girl’s father, Francisco Merrell.

It is important for people to know that these precious children are and always have been very much loved by their father and family. Even though this is a tragedy, it is also important to only focus on spreading love and joy, remembering all of the precious memories we have of our loved ones who have passed, instead of focusing on the negative because there is too much hatred in the world. We absolutely do not want you to focus on what happened, but to instead remember her beautiful face and know that even though she is not here on earth with us, she will always be here with us in spirit. She will never again experience pain and will always be happy. This beautiful girl is an angel and hero for her brothers and all children. We hope that Adelynn will make a true difference!

Officials with the Department of Children and Families say they are examining their records in the case.

Donations to the family are being accepted and can be made in the name of Adrian, Adelynn and Benjamin Merrell at the Bank of Tescott in Lincoln, Kansas.

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