Brett Jason Hallow, 30 and Sarah Kay Hallow, 28, of Elk River, Minnesota called 911 claiming their daughter drowned in a bathtub on August 13, but the police believe she had been deceased for many days by then.
Trigger warning: Disturbing content
No child should have to go through abuse at the hands of their parents. They deserve love and affection but instead when parents become the worst nightmares of their children, it leaves a lasting scar. For some unfortunate children, their parents become monsters. For 8-year-old Autumn Hallow of Elk River, Minnesota, her father, Brett Jason Hallow, 30, and stepmom Sarah Kay Hallow, 28, were her punishers and killers.
Autumn's biological mother, Kelsey Kruse, hadn't seen her daughter since January as the Hallows prevented her from meeting her child citing concerns over the pandemic. Back then, her child's weight and development appeared average for her age but on August 13 when authorities found her dead in her home, the child weighed 45 lbs only, as per Star Tribune.
The 8-year-old child had been repeatedly abused by the Hallows, their other children, a 6-year-old boy, and a 10-year-old daughter revealed to the authorities. They also have a 3-year-old. The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office described Autumn as being "markedly cachectic." She was wasting away based on her scant fatty tissue, atrophied muscle, and significant hair loss, the authorities said.
For Autumn, her home was a house of horrors. The 6-year-old boy said that his parents often tied up Autumn with a belt and put her in a sleeping bag with only her head exposed. There were other times when they tied her up with her hands behind her back with a shirt. She would be forced to sleep restrained "when she is being bad," after urinating on a floor or in her clothing or trying to get food, the complaints read. The 10-year-old daughter had similar stories of abuse to tell. She also added that Autumn wasn't allowed to get medications and had been tied up for that reason as well.
Apart from their abusive behavior, the Hallows were also neglectful. Sarah denied restraining her stepdaughter and yet acknowledged that she didn't take her to the doctor even though she was losing weight.
The series of cruelties were finally exposed when they couldn't hide it from the world anymore. Officers arrived on August 13 at their home to find the stepmom in a bedroom performing chest compressions on Autumn's rigid body, according to People. The child's fingers were blue and there were abrasions as well as "pin-like" marks on her forehead. Police also found blood in the bathroom, according to the documents. She was declared dead on the scene, according to KSTP.
The couple told the police they found Autumn face-down and partially submerged in a bathtub in their home. Then they moved her to the bedroom and tried to revive the child but the autopsy showed the truth. Autumn had puncture wounds on her head, abdominal and brain bleeding, as well as bruising on her hips and hands.
The officers found her to be "extremely frail and thin", her skin was dry and hair was only a little wet, as per the SUN UK. "Based on the condition of [Autumn's] body, law enforcement believed [she] had been deceased for some time," reads the charging documents. It revealed that Autumn had atrophied muscles and significant hair loss and she likely died from asphyxiation. The fatal injuries pointed as asphyxiation and blunt force trauma.
Her mother, Kelsey, was distraught at losing her young child. In a Facebook post, two days after Autumn was found dead, she wrote that the Hallows "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 posting, she added, "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."
Brett and Sarah were arrested on the night of August 14 and have been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, according to KSTP.
A GoFundMe page has been started for funeral costs and legal fees.