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Charges Upgraded Against Caregiver Who Initially Accused Husband in 4-Year-Old Athena Brownfield’s Death

Prosecutors now suspect that Alysia Adams deprived Athena Brownfield of “proper nutrition” before the child died “acute pneumonia.”

By Dorian Geiger
A police handout of Alysia Adams

Charges against the former caretaker of Oklahoma 4-year-old Athena Brownfield have been upgraded to first-degree murder in connection with the child’s death late last year, according to reports.

Alysia Adams, 31, is now facing enhanced charges of first-degree murder in Athena’s Christmas Day, 2022 death. Adams, who had been looking after Athena at the time she vanished, was previously charged with two counts of child neglect by abandonment, according to court documents

RELATED: State Officials Confirm Human Remains Belong To Missing Oklahoma Child Athena Brownfield

Charges against her husband, Ivon Adams, have now been downgraded to second-degree murder, KOKH-TV reported. Ivon, who had originally been charged with first-degree murder in January in connection with Athena’s death, also faces charges of unlawful removal of a dead body and child neglect, according to The Oklahoman.

What happened to Athena Brownfield?

On January 17, remains believed to belong to Athena were recovered from the area of Rush Springs, Oklahoma following a massive search for the 4-year-old after she’d been reported missing. Those remains were positively identified as Athena's on January 26.

A police handout of missing girl Athena Brownfield

Initially, Alysia had accused her husband of violently beating Athena to death during Christmas 2022, according to Law & Crime

“Alysia confessed that on December 25, 2022, around midnight that night, Ivon beat [Athena] and held her up by her arms,” court records stated. “[Athena] was not moving and her eyes were barely open. He then laid her on the ground and punched her at least three more times in her chest. [Athena] never moved after that.”

How did Athena Brownfield die?

Prosecutors now suspect that Alysia instead starved Athena before the little girl actually died of pneumonia. According to Athena’s autopsy, there was “no fatal trauma found” on her body by the medical examiner, additional court papers, cited by Oklahoma NBC affiliate KFOR, allege. The 4-year-old hadn’t suffered any broken bones either. Athena instead died of “acute pneumonia complicating malnutrition,” according to the medical examiner’s report. Her cause of death was officially determined to be homicidal in nature.

Police handouts of Alysia Adams and Ivon Adams

Prosecutors now suspect Alysia is the chief offender in Athena’s death, alleging she confined the girl in a closet and deprived her of “proper nutrition.”

Alysia is also now charged with one count of obstructing an officer for allegedly providing false information to investigators and a separate count of child neglect in connection to her treatment of Athena’s older sister. Before Athena was found to be missing, her then 5-year-old sibling had been found wandering alone near the Adams’ Cyril, Oklahoma home. That discovery prompted a sprawling search for Athena. 

Funeral services were held for Athena last January following the gruesome discovery. 

“Athena loved to color and ‘Baby Shark,’” her obituary stated. “She and her sister were close, ‘joined at the hip.’ Athena enjoyed playing dress-up. Her favorite color was purple."

A preliminary court hearing involving Alysia and Ivon was waived on Tuesday due to the amended charges, according to KFOR. Alysia Adams is scheduled to be arraigned on February 21, 2024.

Athena’s biological mother was also taken into custody earlier this year on child neglect charges, the outlet reported. She has a preliminary hearing scheduled for January 3.

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