Man indicted in Florida death of 3-year-old Kansas girl

Posted: Updated:
Cory Hagwell and Destinee Merrell | Source: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office via WEAR Cory Hagwell and Destinee Merrell | Source: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office via WEAR
Adelynn Merrell Adelynn Merrell

Authorities in the Florida panhandle say a grand jury has indicted a man accused killing a 3-year-old girl from Kansas.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook that 29-year-old Cory Hagwell is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Adelynn Merrell. He is the boyfriend of Adelynn's mother, Destinee Merrell. 

Adelynn died on November 10 in Crestview. Hagwell is accused of kicking the little girl in the head on November 9 because she got out of her car seat. He then allegedly locked her in a bedroom closet.

The sheriff's office says Hagwell found the girl dead several hours later and dumped her body in a wooded area. A deputy found Adelynn's body after the couple reported her missing.

Authorities: 3-year-old dies after being kicked for getting out of car seat

Hagwell was also indicted on two counts of child neglect regarding two other children in his home. Destinee Merrell is charged with accessory after the fact to murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect.

"The other children in the home were found to be severely malnourished and the investigation revealed they were routinely confined in bedrooms and closets," the sheriff's office says.

Adelynn was laid to rest Saturday at All Saints Cemetery in Salina, where she was born.

Donations to the family can be made at all five Bank of Tescott locations in Salina, Lindsborg, Tescott and Lincoln. An online fund has also been established. 

Adelynn's father, Francisco Merrell, released the following statement following Adelynn's death:

"It is important for people to know that these precious children are and always have been very much loved by their father and family. Even though this is a tragedy, it is also important to only focus on spreading love and joy, remembering all of the precious memories we have of our loved ones who have passed, instead of focusing on the negative because there is too much hatred in the world. We absolutely do not want you to focus on what happened, but to instead remember her beautiful face and know that even though she is not here on earth with us, she will always be here with us in spirit. She will never again experience pain and will always be happy. This beautiful girl is an angel and hero for her brothers and all children. We hope that Adelynn will make a true difference!"

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to