Mother now faces murder charge after child’s remains found at softball field in Delaware

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Source: Delaware Department of Justice: MEGA

May. 5 2021, Updated 3:31 p.m. ET

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A Delaware woman is accused of murder after the remains of her 3-year-old daughter were found dumped in a sports field.

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On Sept. 13, 2019, officers of the Smyrna Police Department discovered a child’s remains at the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball fields.

After more than a year of investigation, the child was identified as Emma Grace Cole, who was 3 years old when she died, according to the Delaware Attorney General's Office.

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Emma resided with her mother, Kristie Haas, her stepfather, Brandon Haas, and her siblings before the incident.

Both were previously charged in connection to the child's death, but this week the Delaware Attorney's General announced additional charges against Kristie Haas. 

“Today we are closer to justice for Emma,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Few towns in America are as tight-knit as Smyrna, and this murder shook the community to its core. From the beginning this case was not only deeply disturbing, but incredibly challenging to investigate; it was through sheer force of will and collaboration that Smyrna PD and the FBI cracked this case and that we were able to indict. Emma’s abusers and her murderer will be held accountable. We owe that to the excellent police work that went into this case.” 

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The original indictment in the case alleged that Emma was the victim of child abuse before her death. Kristie and Brandon Haas allegedly deprived Emma of sufficient food and needed medical attention.

They also allegedly subjected Emma and her siblings to excessive forced exercise and inappropriate physical discipline, according to officials.

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Kristie Haas has now been formally charged with causing Emma’s death after engaging in this abuse and neglect.

She will face two counts of first-degree murder by abuse or neglect first, in addition to existing charges of child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, assault, hindering prosecution, abusing a corpse and reckless burning. 

She could face a life sentence if convicted.

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“Emma Grace had a full life left to live and that life was taken. At just three years old she was taken from her friends, her loved ones and her sisters and brother,” said Rachel Byrd, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “When the most vulnerable of our citizens – our children – are victimized we will do everything in our power to hold the perpetrators accountable and to protect others from harm.” 

Her husband, Brandon Haas, faces charges of child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution, and could be sentenced to a maximum of 45 years for his role in Emma’s death.

“While Brandon and Kristie Haas’ initial arrests provided some relief, we knew that the mission was not complete until we were able to bring a homicide charge in this case,” said Lt. Brian Donner of the Smyrna Police Department. “Today culminates all that hard work and investigation.”

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