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Man Accused Of Torturing Neighbors And Killing 4-Year-Old Girl In Attempt To Remove 'Demon' Pleads Guilty

Ethan Mast, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in connection with the 2020 death of his 4-year-old neighbor Jessica Mast, who was found covered in bruises from "neck to her feet."  

By Jill Sederstrom
Ethan Mast Pleads Guilty To Jessica Mast's Murder

A Missouri man pleaded guilty to killing his 4-year-old neighbor, who was covered in bruises and broken blisters, in bizarre attempt to “remove a demon.”

Ethan Mast, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and a count of first-degree or attempted assault involving serious physical injury or a special victim as part of a plea agreement, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com.

Ethan had been facing charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a child, child endangerment, assault and armed criminal action in the death of 4-year-old Jessica Mast, who was found dead on the floor in an upstairs bedroom of her family’s Benton County home just after 1 a.m. on Dec. 20, 2020, according to probable cause statements in the case previously obtained by Oxygen.com.

It’s not clear what sentence Ethan could be facing as a result of the agreement; however, according to Missouri law, second-degree murder is a Class A felony, which is typically punishable by life in prison or a term of “twenty years or more,” Law & Crime reports.

Ethan and Kourtney Aumen, who was 21-years-old at the time of her arrest, were accused of repeatedly beating the child—who had been their neighbor—for weeks in an attempt to “remove a demon.”

Despite having the same last name, investigators said Ethan Mast was not related to the family.

Kourtney Aumen Ethan Mast Pd

When she was discovered, Jessica was covered in bruises from her “neck to her feet.” She also had belt marks on her body and open wounds on the back of her legs that appeared to be from ruptured blisters, according to the court documents.

The young girl’s father, James Mast, told deputies that before his daughter had been found dead she had been “beaten, submerged in a pond, then left to freeze to death on the bank,” according to a statement from the Benton County Sheriff’s Department.

James told authorities that Jessica, his wife Mary and the couple’s other children had been subjected to weeks of abuse at the hands of their neighbors, who had been monitoring them through security cameras inside the home, according to the probable cause statements in the case.

James told investigators that he was often forced to watch the beatings and wasn’t allowed to intervene.

On the night Jessica died, Mary and James—who are also facing charges in connection to the death—said their neighbors came over and beat Jessica with a belt before they forced Mary to take the child to a nearby pond and dip her naked into the water. James took her inside and back up to her bedroom, where she was later found dead.

James Mast and Mary Mast

The sheriff’s office said Mary and her 2-year-old son were also found “beaten to a severe extent.”

Ethan Mast allegedly told authorities that he had beaten the family to remove “demons or evil,” while Aumen allegedly claimed she had carried out the abuse at the request of someone living in the home, according to the court records.

Aumen, who is facing charges of second-degree murder, abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death, first-degree assault or attempt, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of armed criminal action, pleaded not guilty last year, according to KMMO. Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.

Mary and James Mast are also facing charges of second-degree murder, abuse or neglect of a child, first-degree assault and other charges in connection with the death of their daughter. They have each pleaded not guilty.

Each posted a $500,000 surety bond last year, according to the local station.

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