A 5-year-old malnourished and abused little girl, Mackenzie Maison, was found dead inside her Michigan home Tuesday night. Port Huron Police received a call in regards to an unresponsive child, but it was already too late by the time they had arrived. Chief Michael Reaves states that investigators are still waiting for autopsy reports, according to Yahoo! News.
The little girl’s 27-year-old dad and 25-year-old stepmom have both been arrested. Chief Reaves reveals, “There is evidence of foul play present at the scene. We are treating this as a homicide investigation.”
Port Huron Police immediately removed three other children who were also in the home. All three of the children were under the age of 11. Two of the three children seemed to be in good health and were put into foster care. One of those two children was the son of Mackenzie’s stepmom, while the other child was the daughter of both Mackenzie’s dad and stepmom, as reported by WXYZ.
However, ABC News reports that the third child, Mackenzie’s 3-year-old biological sister, was rushed to the hospital suffering from extreme malnourishment and dehydration, much like Mackenzie.
According to Reaves, there have been past issues at this residence in the past. However, there have never been any reports of child abuse. It will be interesting to learn what investigators uncover as they dig deep into their search of possible neglect. “At this time we have not uncovered any history of ongoing (Michigan Children’s Protective Services) concerns at that residence or with those children,” Reaves admits to ABC News.
In fact, there are no records of child services having ever been involved with this family.
Although, neighbors say the family “kept to themselves” and therefore, things could have easily been hidden. Ben Gonzales, one of the neighbors, told ABC News, ” I didn’t even know they had any little girls over there.”
Mackenzie’s biological mother, Shelby Coffee, had not seen Mackenzie or her other daughter for nearly 2 years, according to WXYZ.
“I got excuses or he wasn’t answering the door. I wasn’t allowed to see them. There was nothing that I could do because I was not able to afford the funds to take anything back to court.”
Five-year-old Mackenzie’s grandfather, Frank Hawkins, was sitting in front of the house when he was told by the police that Mackenzie was dead. He was struggling with the news, as he responded to reporters, “I’m just in total shock. I need to go wake up my wife and tell her that our granddaughter is dead.”
Hawkins, who is the father of Mackenzie’s stepmom, does not believe there was any foul play that resulted in Mackenzie’s death. “They were okay for food, financially they were okay. I don’t think this was an intentional starvation, I don’t think this was anything like that. My daughter is not malicious, neither is my son-in-law,” Hawkins admits to WXYZ.
While 2nd degree child abuse charges are pending on the two adults that have been arrested, the father and stepmom claim that Mackenzie and her 3-year-old sister had a “reluctance to eat.” Police say Mackenzie’s death and the severe malnourishment of her younger sister is not the result of children who are “picky eaters.”
The St. Clair County prosecutor’s office will pursue the investigation leaving no stone unturned.
[Photo Credit: WXYZ.com, TimesUnion.com]