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A 4-year-old Missouri girl has died after being tortured and beaten by her neighbors — who were trying to rid her of a “demon,” authorities said.
Ethan Mast, 35, and Kourtney Aumen, 21, were arrested Monday in rural Cole Camp after the girl’s father told Benton County deputies a day earlier she had been beaten and submerged in a freezing pond.
A deputy then found the dead 4-year-old covered in bruises from her neck to her feet while wrapped in a pink blanket at her home, a probable cause statement shows.
The girl’s father, James Mast, told cops Ethan Mast and Aumen – who live across the road from the family – had beaten the child over the course of two weeks and threatened to shoot him if he intervened.
The girl was assaulted with a leather belt and then “dunked” in a pond behind a home as temperatures hovered in the 40s, court documents show.
The girl’s mother, Mary Mast, was also allegedly severely beaten by the couple, as well as Mast’s 2-year-old son. Both were taken to a hospital in Sedalia, where they were recovering from their injuries, sheriff officials said Sunday.
James and Mary Mast are not related to Ethan Mast.
“I asked how he could let people do this to his family, and he stated that they were told [Mary Mast] had a ‘demon’ inside her, and her children would end up just like her if it was not taken care of,” a deputy recalled James Mast telling him, court documents show.
The child’s father also said he was told by the couple it would be a sin if he or his wife helped their children or themselves during the alleged abuse, claiming Satan would come if they did, according to a probable cause statement.
Ethan Mast and Aumen admitted to beating the two children, as well as Mary Mast, on Saturday during interviews with investigators.
“I’m at a loss for words about how bad this case is and everybody involved is just … I know their hearts are just destroyed,” Sheriff Eric Knox told OzarksFirst.com.
“People shouldn’t have to see this. They shouldn’t have to deal with this ever.”
Knox added that the suspects and victims belonged to the same church and the tragic incident is believed to be some kind of “religious-type episode.” It is unclear what church the families attended.
Mast and Aumen, who have been charged with second-degree murder, sexual abuse and three counts of first-degree assault, are being held without bond ahead of their next scheduled hearing on Jan. 5, OzarksFirst.com reported.
They had not hired attorneys who could speak on their behalf as of Tuesday.
With Post wires
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