U.S. Marshals arrested a southern Michigan couple in Lake Park, Georgia on charges involving the murder of a 4-year-old girl, Gabrielle Renea Barrett.
The child’s mother, Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and Diaz’s boyfriend, Brad Edward Fields, 28, were charged in a Wayne County arrest warrant with murder, child abuse and torture, according to a press release.
The young girl was found unresponsive in a mobile home community in Sumpter Township.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Girl Was Burned So Badly That Her Big Toe Came Off & Melted Skin Was Found in a Bathtub Drain
In a press release published by the Sumpter Township Police Department, authorities say that on January 1, they “responded to a 911 call from a residence on Greenmeadow Drive, inside the Rawsonville Woods Mobile Home Community, on the report of an unresponsive four-year-old female.”
The girl, later identified as Diaz’s daughter, was given CPR by family members and officers, but was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Police “found the child suffering from severe burns about her extremities,” according to the press release, and there was “evidence of multiple traumatic injuries and signs of Battered Child Syndrome (multiple injuries, multiple sites, multiple stages).”
The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner said the death was the “worst child death case” that they had seen in 27 years of practice, according to a court document obtained by The Detroit Free Press.
“The petition gave gruesome details of alleged physical abuse to Gabrielle Barrett, including the girl being burned so badly that her big toe fell off, and said police found melted skin in the bathtub drain,” the news outlet reported, adding that the document “seeks to terminate the parental rights to the girl’s half-sister.”
The half-sister was the daughter of Fields and Diaz, a source told Heavy, adding that Fields also had a son and daughter from a previous relationship whom he didn’t see.
2. A Source Who Knew Fields Said He Was ‘Violent’ From a Young Age & Suffered From Mental Illness
According to a source, who asked to remain anonymous because of safety reasons and has known Fields for several years, the man was “extremely violent.” The source stated:
Brad is an extremely violent and extremely controlling man. He’s been that way since he was very young. Schizophrenia is only one of his problems. He’s also bipolar and manic depressive.
He was always obsessed with violence and trying to fight anyone or anything, including trees and walls.
The person also told Heavy that the couple was heavily involved with drugs.
“They’re into anything that will get them high…crack, meth, pills,” the source said. “Candice has been messed up since childhood. Her mom was a drug addict and abandoned her when she was Gabby’s age.”
The source added that they were shocked at Diaz’s age, stating:
Finding out Candice was 24 was kind of a shock honestly, he usually went for girls that were 15-16…I don’t know if it made them feel special because an older ‘cool’ guy paid attention to them or because he’d give them drugs. He did both. One of the girls was in hiding for three days because she was terrified he’d find her. She ended up moving to her grandma’s house in Arkansas to clean up about three years ago.
3. In 2016 the Couple’s Home Was Described by Police as ‘Very Foul’ With Animal Waste Throughout
This is not the first time the duo has been in trouble with police.
In May of 2016, authorities responded to a call regarding a domestic assault involving Diaz and Fields. Upon arrival, they discovered a dog that had been shot and was bleeding from its hindquarter, according to an incident report.
Diaz explained to police that Fields had “punched her several times in the head” and then broke her cell phone so that she wouldn’t be able to call for help.
Upon entering the home, police described the following conditions:
The smell in the house was quite foul due to old garbage, decaying food, uncleaned dishes, dog urine on the living room floor, dog feces in the children’s room, a rabbit with unchanged wood shavings and general uncleanliness. There were flies of all sorts in the air throughout the house.
In addition, authorities found a gas mask, several knives, multiple firearms and ammunition, as well as several crack pipes in the home.
Diaz told police that the weapons belonged to her, and admitted to filing down one of the gun’s serial numbers, a felony.
4. They Were Arrested Several States Away in Georgia
Diaz and Fields were arrested January 9 near Lake Park, Georgia off of I-75 near the Florida border.
“A few minutes ago, both Diaz and Fields were captured while driving near Lake Park, Georgia,” Sumpter Township authorities said in an updated press release Tuesday afternoon. “They were taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service out of Macon, Georgia, working in conjunction with the Lowndes County Sheriff Department. We have no additional information at this time and will make more known as we get it.”
5. An Arrest Warrant Charged the Couple With Felony Murder Among Other Charges
According to the press release, an arrest warrant was approved by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charging the couple with multiple offenses.
Both Diaz and Fields have been charged with the following, the release stated:
Count 1: HOMICIDE – FELONY MURDER
Count 2: HOMICIDE – MURDER – SECOND DEGREE
Count 3: CHILD ABUSE – FIRST DEGREE
Count 4: TORTURE
Police added that Fields was also charged as a habitual offender.