The parents of a young girl whose remains were found near a burned section of a Smyrna softball field have been indicted in connection to the child's death, the Delaware Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
According to officials, Emma Grace Cole's remains were discovered at the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball fields on September 13, 2019. A multi-jurisdictional investigation was launched, and officials said Emma, 3 years old at the time of her death, had been living in Smyrna with her mother, Kristie Haas, 28, and stepfather, Brandon Haas, 39, at the time of her death.
Following a year-long investigation, it was determined Emma had been the victim of abuse before her death, officials said. It's alleged her parents had deprived the girl of "sufficient food and needed medical attention," and that they'd "subjected Emma and her siblings to excessive forced exercise and inappropriate physical discipline."
“The road ahead is still long, but this indictment is a major step toward justice for Emma,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “No crime is more heinous, more offensive to all we hold dear, than the abuse of a child; and in a community as tight-knit as Smyrna, I know how deeply shocking and disturbing this case has been. Nothing we can do will bring Emma back, but we owe it to her, to her community, and to every child in this state to hold the defendants accountable for their actions. Thanks to the tireless work of law enforcement, our state and federal partners, and the dedicated staff of the Department of Justice, we are one step closer.”
Brandon and Kristie Haas were detained in Pennsylvania on October 2, 2020, with assistance from the FBI and multiple state and local law enforcement agencies. Both have been charged with first-degree child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, with Kristie Haas additionally being charged with second-degree assault, abusing a corpse, and reckless burning.
Brandon Haas currently faces a maximum of 45 years in prison while Kristie Haas currently faces a maximum 55 years, if each is convicted on all charges against them. That could increase, as police noted additional charges could be possible.