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An Indiana mother and her spouse have both been charged with the fatal beating death of a 9-year-old boy earlier this month.
Jenna Mae Miller, 36, and her partner Alesha Lynn Miller, 30, are both accused of contributing to the Dec. 18 death of Elijah Thomas Ross, who is Jenna Mae Miller's son.
Alesha Lynn Miller, the boy's stepmother, was arrested first, on Dec. 21, according to a press release from the Fort Wayne Police Department. Alesha was charged with aggravated battery resulting in death, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, and two counts of neglect of a dependent. One day before Christmas Eve, the same department arrested Jenna and charged her with neglect of a dependent causing death, neglect of a dependent with failure to render medical aid and two additional counts of neglect of a dependent.
An autopsy showed that Ross had suffered “multiple blunt force injuries,” according to local outlet WANE. The cause and manner of his death has not yet officially been determined.
However, a probable cause affidavit obtained by the outlet gave insight into what led to his death. It stated that Jenna had brought her “cold and limp” son to a hospital where medical staff found “multiple bruises” on his body and face, as well as swelling and abrasions on his shoulders, and a cut on his penis.
The injuries were initially blamed on his brothers, according to the affidavit.
Alesha allegedly told police that she and Jenna were at a Christmas party when they were called and informed that Ross had been fighting with his siblings. She said that his brothers pushed him into a bookcase before he stopped breathing and began vomiting. Jenna allegedly gave the same story at first, and insisted that the pair rushed the boy to the hospital while performing CPR on him.
However, Ross’ siblings told police a different tale, alleging that Alesha “went hard” on Ross, instructing his siblings to “beat him up,” WANE reports.
One brother said that Alesha instructed him to hold Ross’ feet so she could “whoop him” with a wooden paddle. She allegedly continued the abuse until the child was “knocked out.” Jenna changed her story on Thursday to echo her children’s version, telling police that her Alesha “continuously kept whooping the victim” until he went limp. When he went limp, Jenna said she and Alesha put Ross in the shower where he squeezed her arm and said “Mommy.”
It’s not clear if either of the Millers have lawyers.
Elijah's aunt, Jessica Goodpaster, told Oxygen.com he was a "spunky little boy who had a lot of life in him."
"He was very compassionate to those he loved and would make anyone feel better if he noticed they felt down in the dumps. He loved Jeep Gladiators and coloring in coloring books," she said.
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