2 charged in death of malnourished 5-year-old appear in court

Posted at 2:36 PM, April 18, 2024 and last updated 3:11 PM, April 18, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (Scripps News Indianapolis/Court TV) — An Indianapolis mother and her boyfriend appeared in court Wednesday for the death of her daughter.

5-year-old Kinsleigh Welty died on April 9. Her mother, 29-year-old Toni McClure, is charged with murder, criminal confinement, and battery on a person less than 14 years old. McClure’s boyfriend, 27-year-old Ryan Smith, is charged with three counts of child neglect resulting in death and criminal confinement. The child’s grandmother, 53-year-old Tammy Halsey, is charged with criminal confinement. Prosecutors announced the updated charges Thursday.

mugshots of man and woman

(L) Toni McClure, (R) Ryan Smith (Marion County Jail via Scripps News Indianapolis)

On Wednesday, McClure and Smith made their first court appearances. Prosecutors said McClure is facing a murder charge because of the prolonged neglect to Kinsleigh. Smith, who is out on bond, told Scripps News Indianapolis “no questions” when approached outside the courtroom.

RELATED | 3 charged after malnourished 5-year-old girl dies in Indianapolis

Judge Mark Stoner has ordered documents regarding Tammy Halsey’s charges be unsealed. Prosecutors claim she was aware how Kinsleigh was treated. Documents also allege the grandmother tied Kinsleigh to the bed and duct taped her.

“What we are alleging here is grandma had prolonged periods with this child, was in a position to help this child,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.

“A lot of conversation between both mom and grandma about what was going on with this child and what was the best way to deal with some of these issues and that’s the part that’s so disheartening is nobody stepped in to say this child needs help. The thing you consistently see and hear people is people are concerned about their own well-being. Well, I might get in trouble if someone is aware of this or knows about this,” said Mears.

Investigators say Kinsleigh was locked in a closet, while denied proper food and water. That suffering, the prosecutors office says, led to her death.

Investigators noted, the closet also had feces on the door and clothing inside.

child smiles

Kinsleigh Welty (Scripps News Indianapolis)

Mears says more people could be held accountable.

That investigation includes the Department of Child Services.

“DCS was at the house the day that this child passed away. They were not aware or when made this house visit they didn’t uncover or appreciate what was going on in house. That poses a lot of questions for as a prosecutors office. What systems were in place? Did those systems protect that child and what can we do in the future to prevent this from happening again,” said Mears.

Tuesday, DCS commented on Kinsleigh’s death saying “its top priority is child safety. We are always saddened when a child tragedy occurs and partner with stakeholders from across the state to thoroughly investigate all child deaths in Indiana that involve abuse or neglect.”

The family tells Scripps News Indianapolis that’s not enough. They want a full investigation into the department.