New details are emerging in connection with the death of a 4-year-old Missouri girl, who was found “beaten, submerged in a pond, then left to freeze on the bank,” the Benton County Sheriff’s Office reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, authorities were dispatched to a Benton County home on Sunday after the child’s father, James Mast, 28, called 911 just before 1 a.m., when temperatures in Cole Camp were well below freezing. Mast said that the girl’s mother, 28-year-old Mary S. Mast, and a 2-year-old boy had been severely beaten.
Ethan Mast (unrelated to the family), 35, and Kourtney Aumen, 21, are charged with second-degree murder and related charges in connection with the child’s death and the assault on her family members. Police said the couple went over to the Mast’s home uninvited to “discipline” the family.
According to court documents, James Mast told investigators that the neighbors, who lived across the road, went to the same church as his family. The suspects arrived at Mast’s home and declared that Mary Mast had a demon in her, Fox 4 reports.
Over the course of several weeks, the neighbors allegedly beat the Mast children and forced the parents to comply, warning them that they would get hurt if they interfered.
On Saturday, the suspects arrived back at the home at 8 a.m. and began beating the 2-year-old, while forcing the parents to watch. They left the victims’ home at some point that day, then returned later and began beating the 4-year-old with a belt. She cried for help, but no one attempted to stop the beating.
Benton County Dispatch was notified just before 1 AM this morning, December 20, 2020, regarding a four-year-old female…
According to the probable cause statement, both suspects are also accused of sexual abuse.
*Editor’s Note*: There have been conflicting reports surrounding who the sexual abuse victim was. Names of the victims were heavily redacted in the probable cause statement.
The suspects eventually beat Mary Mast, authorities said. Authorities found her inside a bedroom with her two sons, the 2-year-old and an infant. She has “severe bruising” all over her back, ABC 13 reports. The 2-year-old had severe bruising and blisters.
Mary Mast is now recovering in the hospital, along with her 2-year-old son. The infant boy appeared unharmed, and James Mast, who said he was beaten with a wooden spoon for showing compassion to his family, didn’t require hospitalization.
James Mast said the suspects told him “Satan would come” if he showed compassion.
When police arrived at the home on Sunday, James Mast led them to an upstairs bedroom, where his 4-year-old daughter was on the floor near bunk beds, deceased and wrapped in a blanket. She had open wounds that appeared to be ruptured blisters and bruises that resembled belt marks, according to a probable cause statement from Sgt. Chris Wilson.
Mast said the suspects took the girl to a pond and “dunked” her numerous times before leaving her on the bank to freeze. Afterward, they returned the child to her home, where she was wrapped in a blanket and left in the bedroom. It’s unclear exactly when the child died.
Sgt. Wilson asked James Mast “how he could let people do this to his family and he stated they were told (his wife) had a ‘Demon’ inside her and her children would end up just like her if it was not taken care of,” according to the probable cause statement.
“Based on what I know, I think this could be some kind of honest-to-goodness religious-type episode,” Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox told KTLA 5.
Both suspects remain behind bars in Benton County without bail on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault (three counts), and first-degree sex abuse with physical harm.
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[Feature Photo: Ethan Mast and Kourtney Aumen/Police Handout]