Shaylyn's death 'is worst case of sexual trauma'
Friends, family, and many who never even knew Shaylyn, gathered in a park in Spencer, Ind., Friday night to honor the young child's short life. Michael Anthony Adams/IndyStar 3:26 p.m. EDT March 29, 2016
(Photo: Provided by Indiana State Police)
When Shaylyn Ammerman's grandmother put her to sleep in her crib Tuesday night, the 1-year-old was wearing pajamas printed with owls. She had a purple pacifier and a Winnie the Pooh blanket.
But then, prosecutors allege, she was removed from her crib inside their Spencer home by 22-year-old Kyle Parker, a man described as a friend of a friend to Shaylyn's uncle.
Parker then drove toward Gosport with Shaylyn in the car, alive.
And then, in the final moments of Shaylyn's short life, prosecutors allege, Parker pulled over and brutally raped the girl, before smothering her with a cloth in his vehicle.
More than 30 hours later, Shaylyn's body would be found next to a tree in an isolated, rural patch of land where the White River and Indian Creek meet, just outside of Gosport. She was suffocated, an autopsy showed, and badly bruised.
It was the "worst case of sexual trauma" forensic pathologist Donna Stewart had seen in her career. Stewart, who conducted the autopsy in Louisville, Ky., specializes in pediatric autopsies with sexual battery and molestation.
Shaylyn had "numerous very apparent injuries sustained in a sexual assault," the autopsy found, according to an affidavit filed Monday.
The affidavit charges Parker with rape, murder, child molestation, kidnapping, aggravated battery and a slew of other charges.
Such horrific cases of child abuse are fairly rare, said Sandy Runkle, director ofPrevent Child Abuse Indiana. Cases of neglect are more common, Runkle said.
She advised parents to always be aware of the people who are around their children, particularly young children who cannot talk.
"When things happen, it's usually not a stranger," Runkle said. "Over 90 percent of the time, it's someone a child knows."
Runkle noted that in Indiana, everyone — not just individuals who work with kids — is mandated to report suspect abuse. Those who suspect a child is being abused can call the Department of Child Services hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
Parker appeared for a court hearing Monday via video conference. Owen Circuit Court Judge Lori Thatcher Quillen denied bail. Emotionless, Parker said little, except to ask for a court-appointed attorney and say he understood the charges he faced.
The affidavit reveals a horrifying conclusion to the two-day search for Shaylyn, during which family members clung to hope that she would be found safe.
Crews used sonar equipment to plumb the depths of the White River and covered wide expanses of land in rural Owen County with all-terrain vehicles.
But it wasn't until Parker agreed to use a map to show police the location of Shaylyn's body that the details of what happened to the girl began to come together.
The investigation started when members of the Ammerman family called 911 after they awoke Wednesday morning and found that Shaylyn was not in her crib.
Indiana State Police investigators interviewed the occupants of the home that night, administering polygraphs. The people in the home that night were: Tamera Morgan, Shaylyn's grandmother; her husband, Danny Morgan; her sons Justin and Adam Ammerman; and Kyle Parker. Justin Ammerman is Shaylyn's father. He shares custody with her mother, Jessica Stewart.
Justin Ammerman and Tamera Morgan said they went to bed Tuesday night after putting Shaylyn down. Adam Ammerman invited Parker over to drink and watch a movie, along with his stepfather, Danny Morgan, according to court documents.
Sometime between 3 and 4 a.m., Adam Ammerman awoke to the sound of the front door shutting, he told police. He opened his window and saw Parker walking away from the home carrying something, according to court documents. Adam Ammerman told police he thought he saw a foot dangling from something Kyle carried.
State Police detectives then spoke with friends of Parker who said he showed up at their Gosport home sometime around 3:40 a.m. Wednesday morning. They told police Parker pulled his car into their garage and closed the door. He came inside and began washing his clothes. The friends told police he was quiet and distant, and not acting like himself.
Kyle Parker, 22, charged with obstruction of justice, failure to report a dead body, and unlawful disposal of a dead body. (Photo: Owen County Jail)
They also told detectives that Parker is attracted to girls between the ages of 12 and 14.
Detectives then interviewed Parker, who first told them he left the Ammerman home between 12:30 and 1:15 a.m., waving goodbye to Adam Ammerman as he left. He said he then went straight to the home of his friends in Gosport. Parker had scratches on his arms; he told police they were from a cat.
Detectives then spoke with Parker's stepfather and asked him to talk to Parker about telling the truth about Shaylyn, according to court documents. The stepfather told police Parker would cooperate.
In his second interview with police, Parker agreed to show them on a map where Shaylyn's body was, but he implicated Adam Ammerman. Detectives told Parker that Ammerman passed his polygraph test, according to court documents.
Detectives again spoke with Parker's stepfather, the affidavit says. He told them Parker informed him "the police would have the truth once they found Shaylyn's body and the DNA with it."
The stepfather told police Parker confessed to him and said he acted alone.
Parker told his stepfather he was driving toward Gosport with Shaylyn in the car, alive. He pulled over, raped her and smothered her with a cloth in the vehicle, the stepfather told police, according to court documents.
He said he burned Shaylyn's owl pajamas, her purple pacifier and her Winnie the Pooh blanket.
This..."creature" right here is precisely why the death penalty exists.