According to the Washington Post, Alabama authorities have arrested a stepmother and a grandmother for forcing a 9-year-old girl to run for 3 hours on Friday, as punishment for eating candy bars.
The girl’s stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, called police at 6:45 p.m., telling them Savannah was having a seizure and was unresponsive. Paramedics and deputies arriving at the home knew something wasn’t right.
Deputies were told that Savannah was made to run as punishment for lying to her grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, about eating her candy bars.
Without adequate water or salt intake after three hours of grueling roadwork, Savannah Hardin collapsed and suffered seizures. Savannah died Monday at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, of a cardiac arrest.
The sheriff’s press release said an autopsy report showed Savannah was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium (salt) level. A state pathologist ruled it a homicide.
Neighbor Roger Simpson, whose home overlooks the Hardins’ trailer, said he looked down the road and saw the little girl running about 4 p.m., but he didn’t think much of it.
Simpson told the police that he saw no one chasing or coercing the girl to run. But other concerned neighbors called 911 after seeing the girl running outside her home.
Gail Denny and her husband Phil are neighbors who live just up the dirt road from the Hardins.
Denny told the Associated Press that the dead girl’s grandmother owned a lot of property along the road and much of her family lived in homes on that property.
“It seems like a very happy extended family around here,” Denny said. “There are mothers, grandmothers, kids…” But no men.
Garrard and Jessica Mae Hardin were arrested Wednesday and are being held in the Etowah County Detention Center, each on a $500,000 cash bond.
Let this tragic story be a lesson to some of you parents who lack proper communication and parenting skills. Sign up for a free parenting class before it’s too late.