Savannah Hardin Ran To Death? Nine-Year-Old Dies During Punishment, Trial Begins For Grandmother

Savannah Hardin was being punished for something relatively common when she died. Joyce Garrard, 49, allegedly sent her 9-year-old granddaughter running as punishment.

Allegedly, Savannah had lied to her grandmother about eating candy on the bus, and it angered Joyce enough to force her to get creative with her lesson. After three hours of running while carrying sticks and firewood, the girl simply died.

The Gadsden, Alabama, grandmother was arrested on charges of alleged murder.

The charges might not be enough to keep Joyce locked up though, because medical records showed conflicting causes for the girl’s death. It was originally assumed that she had died of dehydration, but the autopsy revealed Savannah Hardin had died with too much water in her system.

Neighbors who witnessed the girl’s death said that they heard Joyce Garrard yelling at her granddaughter “like some kind of drill sergeant.” KVAL says Chad Jacobs, one of the neighbors, had told prosecutors that he’d seen young Savannah running as he came and went from his home.

“Joyce and Savannah were in the yard, and Joyce was telling Savannah to keep running. She was just saying, ‘Keep running, I didn’t tell you to stop.'”

Jacobs allegedly didn’t think anything of it until he saw Savannah on her hands and knees vomiting. Joyce had allegedly been pouring water on her granddaughter at this point, and the paramedics had been called. When they arrived, Savannah was said to be “freezing cold to the touch,” and her clothes and shoes were soaked.

Fox News states that Savannah wasn’t supposed to eat candy because she had a combination of conditions. The candy apparently countered her medication for ADHD, and she had a bladder problem. It is uncertain if Joyce had punished her granddaughter this way out of cruelty or if she was actually trying to help the girl.


When Savannah had left the bus and lied about the candy, a surveillance video shows the bus driver asking if the girl was okay. Her grandmother had replied, “She might be if I can get four more bottles of water in her.”

Savannah’s step-mother Jessica Mae Hardin is also on trial for the girl’s death because she allegedly did nothing while she watched Joyce run her daughter to death. Authorities claim her inaction made her just as much a murderer as Joyce.

What do you think? Is Joyce Garrard guilty of murder for running Savannah Hardin to death?

[Image via Lighting Their Way Home]