Zoey Wagoner was an adorable little girl who was just one year old when she died. But in her single year of life, she “lived in hell” thanks to what investigators and prosecutors say are the cruelest parents imaginable — parents who inflicted “multiple injuries throughout the year,” a court document says.
Jessica and Matt Wagoner of Greenfield, Indiana, were arrested last Friday, May 29, and charged with child neglect and murder in connection with little Zoey’s horrific death the day before.
The couple also stand accused of conspiracy to deceive investigators about how their daughter died. Jessica initially blamed the girl’s death on a babysitter who, the miscreant mom claimed, dropped the little girl.
And then, according to what Matthew Wagoner told police, Zoey fell out of bed a few days later. But he said that even though she stopped breathing, she recovered and seemed fine. So he put her in a stroller and wheeled her out to a nearby convenience store — not knowing that the child was likely dead.
Police discovered what happened to Zoey when they got a call about a child who appeared to be unconscious in a stroller. Witnesses at the convenience store told police that they thought the baby was dead.
When officers showed up, they found Zoey foaming at the mouth with a cut on her forehead and multiple bruises. And what the autopsy report found was even more sickening.
Not only did Zoey’s body show bruising and hemorrhaging on her face, neck, abdomen, and buttocks, she had a lacerated liver and severe injuries to her pancreas and intestines. Blood vessels in her eyes were burst — and the little girls had two broken arms that were in the process of healing.
According to a pathologist, the child looked like she had been stomped on by an adult.
But the parents reportedly never alerted anyone to their daughter’s injuries because they didn’t want to get involved with Child Protective Services again — after Matthew was charged with sexually molesting the couple’s nine-year-old daughter and the girl’s friend.
He was accused of sexually abusing the nine-year-old, taking pictures of her genital area then photographing his own exposed genitals.
The tragedy comes just a couple of weeks after a Utah couple were accused of beating their two-year-old son to death because he soiled his diaper.
After their arrest in the death of their baby girl, the pair quickly accused each other. Matthew claimed that Jessica, on the very day that Zoey died, hit the child with a bottle and in the face. He claimed that Jessica would forcibly hold Zoey’s mouth closed to keep her from screaming, and once punched the baby in the stomach so hard the child was left gasping for air.
UPDATE: Jessica Wagoner appeared in court June 12, and asked that her trial in the death of her little daughter Zoey by moved to a new location because she has been subject to “public hostility” and unfair news reporting. A judge will decide whether to grant her request at a July 15 hearing.
Meanwhile, lawyers for dad Matthew Wagoner requested that he receive a psychiatric evaluation. Court-appointed attorney Jeff McClarnon said that he suspects that the accused dad may be “not responsible by insanity,” meaning that either Wagoner could attempt an insanity defense — or possibly be ruled mentally unfit to stand trail at all..
But Jessica Wagoner denied harming Zoey and claimed that Matthew has bipolar disorder and has been violent toward her in the past, and that she never trusted him around the children and tried to keep him away from them.
[Images: Hancock County Jail, Facebook]