BENTON COUNTY, Mo. — A judge has set a preliminary hearing date for James and Mary Mast, the parents charged in the death of their four-year-old daughter. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 1, 2022.

James and his wife Mary are charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, and armed criminal action. Their daughter Jessica Mast was found dead in the family’s home in December of 2020.

Two other people, the Mast’s neighbors, Ethan Mast and Kourtney Aumen are also charged in the child’s death. Ethan Mast is not related to James and Mary Mast. Mast and Aumen are charged with first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and first-degree assault.

Investigators say Ethan Mast and Aumen told the Mast family they were beating the “demons” out of the family. The four-year-old child was beaten, submerged in a pond, and left to freeze before being taken into the house, where authorities found her.