PHOENIX, Aug. 19 (UPI) — Four relatives of a 10-year-old Phoenix girl who died inside a plastic box have pleaded not guilty to murder and child abuse charges.
Judith Deal, 72, the dead girl’s grandmother; Cynthia Stolzmann, 39, her aunt; and two other family members, John and Samantha Allen, both 23, appeared in court Wednesday, KTAR-TV, Phoenix, reported. All four are in jail with bail set at $1 million for the Allens and $500,000 for the other two.
Ame Deal died July 11. Investigators said John Allen shut her in the box as a punishment. She allegedly died while her relatives slept.
The family told police her death was the result of a game of hide and seek that got out of hand.
Court records show Ame weighed 59 pounds when she died, KSAZ-TV, Phoenix, reported. Police said she had been starved and subjected to grotesque punishments, including being forced to eat dog feces.
Allen allegedly locked her in the box because she did not get permission before taking a Popsicle from the refrigerator.