TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – A preliminary autopsy of a three-year-old Texarkana girl believed to have been severely abused shows she died of severe internal organ damage, according to the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department.
McKenna Belcher-Cawley, 26, and her husband Everette Cawley, 23, were taken into custody early Tuesday morning after hospital staff at St. Michael’s called police about the child, who was unresponsive with suspected injuries sustained by abuse.
After receiving initial treatment, the little girl was rushed to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for treatment of her extensive external and internal injuries. She died just after 5 p.m.
The couple was initially charged with first-degree battery. After the child’s death, charges against McKenna Cawley, who is her stepmother, were upgraded to capital murder and domestic battery in the 2nd degree. The child’s biological father, Everette Cawley, 23, is now charged with two counts of permitting the abuse of a minor.
Police say their investigation led them to believe the child suffered an overwhelming amount of abuse, along with her 2-year-old brother.
The couple, who moved to Texarkana from Washington state in February, share an infant. Both surviving children have been removed from the home, and police say the Arkansas Department of Child Protective Services has been working to ensure the safety of the toddler and infant.
TAPD says they will continue working with the prosecutor on any additional charges.
The couple is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.