WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (Scripps News Lexington) — A couple charged with the murder of 4-year-old Chloe Darnell was back in court on Monday for a preliminary hearing.
Along with the murder charge, Brittany Slaughter and Adam Hayes are charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. Hayes is facing additional charges of trafficking a controlled substance, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of marijuana. Both entered not guilty pleas.
Editors note: The following story contains descriptions considered graphic and disturbing.
In court on Monday, Whitley County Sheriff’s Lt. David Lassiter testified he received a welfare check from the family on Nov. 13, and that later led to a missing person case. When he showed up at the home, he said it was “filthy” and that it was covered in urine and dog feces. There was also a padlock on the door of Chloe’s room. Officers later received a search warrant, and when they lifted up new plywood on the floor they found more plywood underneath. The staining on the floor reacted with hydrogen peroxide, which reacts to blood.
Lt. Lassiter says both indicated they were high at the time of the arrest and mentioned marijuana and meth. He estimates he saw a few grams of heroin in the house and a small amount of marijuana along with two scales. A 9mm firearm was also found inside the home.
According to police testimony, Hayes said Chloe fell from a shelf she often climbed on. He first told police he performed CPR for six hours and that “her mouth tasted bad.”
It’s unclear what happened next, but one of the reasons they allegedly did not call 911 was because of substances they had inside the home, according to testimony.
Lt. Lassiter testified that Slaughter later confessed and helped officers locate Chloe’s body, which was found at a local cemetery off Devils Creek Road in Whitley County. Slaughter told police she did not participate in digging the hole or burying Chloe, but she did allegedly help pick the spot and went back to the car. Police say they noticed cuts and bruises all over Chloe’s body.
He added, that testimony from Slaughter revealed Chloe often received corporal punishment from Hayes for having accidents to the point of marks or bruising. Lt. Lassiter said she admitted to having to step in on occasion. He added that Hayes also admitted to spanking the child, believing she messed herself to try to spite him.
Police say the two changed their stories multiple times.
Hayes is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. Slaughter’s bond was reduced to 250,000 on Monday.
Prosecutors have 60 days to indict and present their findings to the grand jury.
An autopsy will determine the cause of Chloe’s death. Prosecutors say that will come in after researchers and anthropologists with the University of Tennessee assess the body.
This story was originally published by Scripps News Lexington, an E.W. Scripps Company.