Authorities who had been searching for the body of 4-year-old Athena Brownfield discovered the remains of a child in Grady County, Oklahoma, on Tuesday.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said that it could not immediately confirm that the remains belonged to Athena. The medical examiner’s office in Oklahoma City will formally make the identification.
The girl was reported missing last week after a postal worker found her 5-year-old sister walking alone outside their home in Cyril, Oklahoma. Law enforcement agencies and local volunteers joined the search effort, but on Tuesday, court documents revealed that authorities believe Athena was killed last month.
The sisters’ caregivers, 31-year-old Alysia Adams and 36-year-old Ivon Adams, were arrested last week and charged with child neglect. Ivon Adams, who was taken into custody in Phoenix, also faces charges of murder, though authorities didn’t immediately release how they believed Athena died.
On Tuesday, probable cause affidavits provided new details about the investigation into the Adamses.
According to one affidavit, Alysia Adams told investigators that her husband beat Athena to death on Christmas Day.
“He then laid her on the ground and punched her at least three more times in her chest,” she allegedly said, adding that Athena “never moved after that.”
He then buried the girl's body near a fence line by their old residence in Rush Springs, the affidavit said.
The sisters had been living with the couple for over a year after their biological mother placed them there, the affidavit said. According to investigators, their biological parents are cooperating with authorities.
While the girls lived with the Adamses, they were not taken to the doctor or enrolled in school, the affidavit said. The 5-year-old told investigators that she had been by herself on the day she was found by the postal worker and had left the home because she was “tired of being alone,” the affidavit said.