Shaylyn Ammerman, a 14-month-old girl from Indiana, was reported as missing from her father’s house in Spencer last Wednesday. Ammerman’s body was found the following evening near the White River, which flows through central and southern Indiana. A coroner on Friday ruled that Ammerman was asphyxiated, and a suspect is now in custody.
According to the Washington Post on March 27, hundreds of Spencer residents, along with family and friends, turned up for a prayer vigil over the weekend to mourn Shaylyn’s death. A suspect – identified as a “friend of the family” – has been named as Kyle Parker, 22.
Ammerman was found near the river bank in Gosport, only a few miles from her father’s house where she was last seen. Shaylyn’s dad, Justin Ammerman, shared joint custody with the girl’s mother. The suspect was known to be in the home the night Shaylyn disappeared, but his exact role or possible motive remains under investigation.
“I put her to bed around 10 or 10:30, and I checked on her at midnight before I went to bed,” Shaylyn’s grandmother, Tamera Morgan, told The Associated Press. “She was laying in her bed sound asleep, and then we went to bed, and we woke up and she was gone.”
Parker was booked into the Owen County Jail under preliminary charges of “obstruction of justice, failure to report a dead body and unlawful disposition of a dead body,” the AP report said.
“Right now, there’s just too many unanswered questions, too much information we haven’t gathered yet,” commented Owen County Sheriff Leonard Hobbs Hobbs during a news conference. “I’m sure that in the next few days and weeks they’ll have all the information they need to bring charges accordingly.”
According to the Indy Star, Parker was a trusted friend of the family, a person who used to rock Shaylyn to sleep and who had been in the home dozens of times – and on many of those occasions would sit and play with Shaylyn.
“He talked so kindly,” Morgan said of Parker. “He played with Shaylyn.”
Dad Justin Ammerman said he is “devastated” over his daughter’s death, adding that he is “just shocked that somebody would do this to me.”
Parker’s mother, Christina Patton, said in a statement republished by Fox59, that her family is “completely heartbroken” by the Shaylyn’s death.
“We wish to extend our most sincere condolences to Shaylyn’s family,” she said. “Our hearts are heavy and filled with grief over this beautiful little girl’s passing. It is a difficult time for all families involved. We ask for continued thoughts and prayer as police agencies continue their investigative process into this tragedy.”
According to authorities, Parker was drinking the night Shaylyn disappeared. He also has a criminal record, including charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a synthetic or lookalike drug, possession of marijuana, illegal consumption of an alcoholic beverage and criminal trespassing.