OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – It appears that a months-long desperate search for a missing Oklahoma toddler has come to a tragic end.
“This is one of those cases that breaks your heart,” said Ryan Mears, the Marion County Prosecutor. “The very people that should have been there to protect and love this child, let this child down.”
On Wednesday, Indiana authorities charged Madison Marshall, Oaklee’s mother, and Roan Waters, Marshall’s boyfriend, for their alleged roles in the toddler’s disappearance and death. Investigators say Oaklee was killed just a month before her second birthday.
In January Oaklee’s father Zachary Snow reported the toddler missing after Marshall took off to Indianapolis with Oaklee, her and Snow’s 7-month-old son Coleton and Waters.
“It hurts,” Snow told KFOR earlier this month. “It’s not something that, you know, any real man wants.”
On February 9, the couple abandoned Coleton at a home in Indianapolis, before fleeing to Colorado.
Thanks to someone eventually calling authorities, the 7-month-old was picked up by CPS and is now safely in Snow’s custody. Waters was arrested in Colorado on March 3, while Marshall was eventually arrested in North Carolina a few weeks later.
But no one had seen Oaklee since that February day until last week when Marshall led investigators to an abandoned property in Morgantown, Indiana.
“It’s a very rural area,” said Mears. “Calling it a house is probably a stretch. It’s just an abandoned structure.”
What investigators believe is little Oaklee’s body was found inside.
“She was found in a dresser drawer,” said Mears.
Positive identification of the child’s remains has not yet been made due to the decomposed state. The Morgan County Coroner said identification could take two to four weeks, according to our sister station in Indianapolis, Fox 59.
Court records filed Wednesday reveal that Waters had a history of physically abusing Oaklee. According to the documents, he would frequently “whoop” or “spank” the toddler, and occasionally “choked her out.”
“This included for reasons of her crying, urinating in her diaper, ‘holding a fork wrong,’ and other behavior common of a toddler,” said the affidavit.
The documents also detail what led up to Oaklee’s killing on February 9.
That morning, Marshall and Waters woke up to Oaklee crying because she was hungry, according to the court documents. Because the “crying had agitated him,” the documents say Waters “threw” Oaklee onto the floor, causing a red bump to form above her right eye.
Court records reveal that shortly after, Waters began yelling at Oaklee, “specifically ordering her to bounce on her bouncy ball.” Marshall told investigators this was challenging for Oaklee because of her small size.
“Waters’ voice continually got louder and angrier as he told her to bounce,” according to the documents.
Marshall told investigators that about 10 minutes later, Water’s screamed for her twice. She ran into the hallway to find Waters holding Oaklee in his arms with her eyes closed and with “a mix of blood and spittle dripping from her mouth when she tried to exhale.”
The court documents say Waters placed Oaklee in the bathtub and tried to douse her in cold water to wake her up. He also slapped the phone out of Marshall’s hands as she attempted to call 911, according to the documents.
The documents say Waters wrapped Oaklee in a blanket and drove to the abandoned building in Morgantown, where he left Oaklee’s body.
“Waters instructed her (Marshall) that their alibi was that they had left Oaklee at a hospital,” said the court documents.
Waters is facing multiple charges including Murder and Marshall is looking at multiple charges including two counts of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death and Assisting a Criminal.
“She ultimately lost her life at the hands of that abuse and then you look at how her body was disposed of,” said Mears. “It just doesn’t reflect the dignity that people should demonstrate for any person, let alone a small child.”
Oaklee’s loved ones were understandably too distraught for an interview on Wednesday. However, a close family friend sent KFOR the following statement:
“We are heartbroken at the results for Oaklee. We are numb, and at a loss for words. Nothing can explain the amount of pain family and close loved ones are feeling at this time. We will always carry Oaklee in our hearts for the rest of our life. She did not deserve this, and we are seeking justice for Oaklee. Please continue prayers for her family and loved ones. This is a nightmare that unfortunately we won’t get to wake up from. “