PHOENIX, July 28 (UPI) — Phoenix police said Thursday they arrested four people in the death of a 10-year-old girl who suffocated in a footlocker earlier this month.
Ame Deal died inside the footlocker July 12 during what the suspects said was a game of hide-and-seek; however, police said in a written statement further investigation determined the girl had been forced into the small box, which was then padlocked.
“This truly is a tragedy,” said acting Police Chief Joe Yahner, who was visibly upset at a news conference announcing the arrest. “This is a bothersome crime.”
The Arizona Republic said Ame was allegedly forced into the footlocker as a punishment for swiping a Popsicle from the freezer. The suspects allegedly forced the child to perform a series of back bends and run laps in the Phoenix summer heat.
Detectives late Wednesday arrested four members of a family that were acting as guardians of the girl as well as about a dozen other children.
John Allen and Samantha Allen, both 23, confessed to locking Ame in the box July 12. Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, admitted to previously confining the child in the box as punishment, as did Judith Deal, 62. The Allens were charged with murder, police said. The other two women would face charges of kidnapping and child abuse.