An 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy from Indiana have been charged with aggravated battery after police say the pair brutally tortured their 5-year-old cousin, who later died.
Delaware County Coroner Scott Hahn confirmed Wednesday that the death of Marie Sadlyne B. Pierre, a Haitian national, has been ruled a homicide.
Police discovered the toddler lying unresponsive in the kitchen area of her home Saturday.
Marie’s two teenage cousins have told police that some of the torture sessions were ordered by their older sister, Charlene Tabb, 29, who with her 53-year-old husband, Marcus, faces a preliminary charge of neglect of a dependent causing death – a felony carrying a 30-year prison term.
Investigators say the 11-year-old and 14-year-old attacked the girl with pliers, a hammer, a leather belt and screwdrivers, among other items. Police have said the victim's body had more than 80 marks or injuries, the Indianapolis Star reported.
According to statements from the four children who had been staying with the Muncie couple, the abuse of little Marie started in May.
The minors interviewed by police have revealed that the 5-year-old was repeatedly punished for ‘bad behavior,’ such as vomiting, urinating on the floor and ‘smarting off.’
Muncie Police Chief Steve Stewart has called it ‘one of the most horrific cases’ he has seen in 28 years of police work.
Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold indicated Wednesday that the Tabbs, who are being held without bond, may face additional charges in the case, such as murder.
The Tabbs were unofficial guardians of the 5-year-old. Court documents and police have said the couple assumed care of the girl in July 2012 because her father had abandoned her.
Police officers responded to Charlene and Marcus Tabb's home at 1004 North Brady Street in Muncie at around 11.20pm Saturday after getting a report about a girl who was unresponsive.
Marie Pierre was found lying on her back in the kitchen and not breathing. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Muncie police Detective Richard Howell wrote in his report cited by The Star Press that the girl was found with multiple untreated injuries, including open sores and 'odd markings' on both her nipples, which appeared to have been pinched with pliers.
The Tabbs were arrested last Sunday and booked into Delaware County Jail without bond. The 29-year-old woman's two younger siblings, who also have been charged in the case, are being held at the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center.
The toddler had been living with the Tabbs since last July, when Charlene Tabb had ‘voluntarily’ assumed care for the girl when Marie was abandoned by her father, according to court documents. It has been reported that the girl's biological mother still resides in Haiti.
There were a number of other children ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old living in the Muncie house. They have since been placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
When questioned by police, both Marcus and Charlene Tabb told officers they were at work at the time of Marie’s death.
According to the probable cause documents, a 14-year-old called Marcus Tabb Saturday night ‘and stated something was wrong.’ The 53-year-old suspect said he then picked up his wife from work and the couple drove home, where they found the girl ‘unconscious and not breathing.’
The paper has reported that the 29-year-old woman works as a quality analyst at PolyOne, a intentional company producing polymer materials where Tabb has been employed for 10 years.
Both Mrs Tabb and her husband have ties to Florida. A Facebook profile under Charlene Tabb’s maiden name, Gercilus, indicates she graduated from Coral Reef High School in Miami.
Records indicate that the couple owns several properties in Muncie, and it has been reported that Mr Tabb’s work involves rehabilitating and reselling homes.