BENTON COUNTY, Mo.- 35-year-old Ethan Mast and 21-year-old Kourtney Aumen have been charged in the death of a four-year-old girl.

Both Mast and Aumen are charged with:

  • Second-degree murder
  • Three counts of first-degree assault
  • First-degree sexual abuse

According to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the four-year-old was found dead Sunday morning by her father around 1 a.m.

Her father told deputies that she had been beaten, submerged in a pond, then left to freeze on the bank before being taken back into the residence in Cole Camp.

The mother and a two-year-old sibling of the girl were severely beaten and were transported to a hospital in Sedalia.

Mast and Aumen held without bond until next hearing on January 5.

Benton County, Missouri Sheriff Eric Knox told Ozarksfirst, “Anytime a child loses their life at such a young, innocent age, devastating doesn’t cover the feelings that run through the Deputy Sheriffs and the people that come in contact with these situations.

Sheriff Knox went on to share more about how this crime has affected the community, saying, “I’m at a loss for words for how bad this case is and everybody involved is just…I know their hearts are just destroyed. People shouldn’t have to see this. They shouldn’t have to deal with this ever. And unfortunately, law enforcement this is what we do. But it does affect every person including myself, that has had to come in contact with this case.”

Listen to Ozarks First’s over-the-phone interview with Benton County Sheriff Erick Knox.

Below is information in this case from Probable Cause statements.

Court documents say an investigator with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene and found the father of the four-year-old girl to ask him what happened. The father showed the investigator his daughter.

The investigator saw the four-year-old girl wrapped up in a pink blanket on the floor. Court records say she had several purple bruises from her neck to her feet. The investigator found that the bruising appeared to be belt marks.

The investigator then asked the man where the rest of his family was in the house. Court documents say the mother and their two-year-old son had severe bruising. The family has another infant and he had no injuries.

The deputy asked the father how these injuries happened. He told the deputy that people who lived across the road, Mast and Aumen, caused the injuries. According to the PC statement, the two went to the family’s house that morning around 8 a.m. and beat the two-year-old.

The father told authorities that the beatings have been happening for about two weeks. He also told police that he was beaten with a wooden spoon two days earlier.

“I asked how he could let people do this to his family, and he stated that they were told (the mother) had a “demon” inside her, and her children would end up just like her if it was not taken care of,” court documents say.

The father said that Mast and Aumen threatened him and said if he did not comply, someone would get shot. The father also told police that if he or his wife provided aid or comfort to the children or themselves, it would be a sin, and satan would come.

Mast and Aumen told investigators during interviews after being arrested that they did beat the children and their mother. They also said they forced the mother and daughter to a pond where more assaults occurred.