PLYMOUTH, Ind. — The death of an 11-month-old northern Indiana girl found dead in a wooded area has been ruled a homicide, a prosecutor said Monday.
Mercedes Lain died from blunt force injuries to the head, Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said Monday.
The baby’s autopsy was conducted on Friday in Fort Wayne, Chipman said.
Justin Miller, 37, of Hamlet is being held in the Marshall County Jail on a charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. He appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty.
The girl’s body was found Wednesday evening in a densely wooded area of Starke County near the Marshall County line after Miller led officers to the site.
Mercedes’ parents, Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn, also face neglect charges. Court records say Miller is a relative of the parents.
Chipman has said Kenneth Lain left Mercedes with Miller at a Plymouth motel Aug. 13 to babysit for the weekend so he and Coburn could have “a few days break from their child.” But after Miller did not bring the toddler back as planned on Sunday her parents reported her missing to police, he said.
Miller told officers he had used synthetic marijuana several times during the time he had Mercedes in his care.