- Autumn Hallow, eight, was found dead by police on Thursday after a 911 call
- Sarah Hallow, Autumn's stepmother, said she was found face-down in the bath
- However, investigators believe she died some time before they received the call
- Sarah and the girl's father - Brett Hallow - have since been arrested and charged
- They both face charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter
A father and stepmother from Minnesota have been charged with murder in relation to the death of the man's eight-year-old girl daughter, after she was allegedly tied up in a sleeping bag for wetting herself.
Autumn Hallow's body was found severely emaciated after police in Elk River, Minnesota responded to a call last Thursday at around 3.45 p.m. about a girl who was found unresponsive in a bathtub, police said.
According to the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office, upon arrival at a complex on the south side of Elk River, officers found Autumn's stepmother Sarah Hallow, 28, performing chest compressions on the girl, who officers said appeared 'extremely frail and thin.'
Attempts to revive the girl were unsuccessful, and Autumn was pronounced dead at the scene, with investigators saying she had likely been dead for some time before police received the call, based on the condition her body.
Sarah Hallow and father Brett Hallow, 30, were both arrested the following day, and charged with one count of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter on Monday. The pair are being held without bond, according to People magazine.
The criminal complaint states that responding officers noticed that Autumn was 'extremely frail and thin,' and despite Sarah Hallow allegedly claiming that she had found Autumn face down in the bathtub that day, officers also said that her skin was dry and her hair was only damp when they found her.
The complaint states that Sarah Hallow told officers that Autumn said she was going to take a shower, but when she went to check on the eight-year-old 40 minutes later, she found her face down in the water.
Brett Hallow reportedly told officers that he woke up to screams from Sarah, and that he found her with Autumn lying next to her on the floor.
However, Autumn also had cuts and marks on her forehead as well as multiple bruises, and her fingers were blue when officers found her, police said. An autopsy report found head trauma, and said she likely died from asphyxiation.
Police also said they also found blood in the bathroom, and 'pin-like' marks on her forehead.
The Hallow's six-year-old son and Sarah Hallow's 10 year-old daughter were interviewed by investigators and child protection workers after the arrest of their parents.
The six-year-old said his parents had used a brown belt to tie up Autumn and put her in a red sleeping bag, which they would move to different rooms or the bathtub. He said they would tie her up any time she misbehaved or urinated in her clothes.
The complaint also says that their son heard a large bang coming from the bathroom the same morning Autumn was found dead, when Sarah and Brett were in the bathroom with Autumn. It also states that the 10-year-old girl saw blood in the bath and saw that Autumn wasn't breathing.
Both Brett and Sarah deny all of their children's accusations. Sarah denied shouting at Autumn, restraining her or putting her in the sleeping bag. Brett also denied the accusations laid out in the complaint.
Sarah also said she didn't know where Autumn's injuries had come from, and estimated that she child weighed around 45 lbs, but admitted that they did not bring her to a doctor according to the complaint.
Autumn's biological mother - Kelsey Kruse - said that the couple had not allowed her to see her daughter for several months out of concern of the coronavirus, and that she was well the last time she saw her.
In a Facebook post, Kruse addressed the Hallows, writing: 'I hate you both... You have given me and my family a permanent scar. You took something we will never get back... I hope your other children know what you did, and I hope they grow up knowing that their sister saved them.
In a separate post, she addressed her daughter, saying, 'Your father kept you from me for several months, and he then took your life. I hope you know how much I tried to get you... All of your siblings were lucky to have a sister like you.'
A GoFundMe page has since been set up by a friend of Kruse's to help raise funds towards Autumn's funeral, who wrote on the page: 'A parents worst nightmare has happened to my very good friend, Kelsey. She lost her eight-year-old baby girl, tragically.
'Brett Hallow and Sarah Hallow have been arrested for the murder of Autumn. With this information, there will be legal action taken on Kelseys end of things. We will be using any extra donations towards lawyer fees and anything else that will help Autumn get justice served.'
On Wednesday night, several hundred people gathered in Elk River to celebrate Autumn's life, and dozens of pickup trucks paraded through Lions Park to show support for Kruse.
Teresa McNamee, Executive Director of Rivers of Hope, a domestic and family abuse prevention non-profit, spoke to the crowd on behalf of Autumn's mother.
'On behalf of the family, we thank you for showing up for them, to remember Autumn during this very difficult time,' she said. 'Their grief is indescribable and for reasons unimaginable.'