• Mom, boyfriend sought in burning, beating death of 4-year-old girl

    By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    SUMPTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A manhunt is underway for a Michigan woman and her boyfriend charged in the death of the woman’s 4-year-old daughter, who suffered injuries that included severe burns on her arms and legs.

    Sumpter Township police investigators have filed multiple charges against Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and Brad Edward Fields, 28, including felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture. Fields is also charged as a habitual offender.

    A police news release stated that officers and paramedics went to the couple’s mobile home on New Year’s Day following a 911 call reporting an unresponsive child. When first responders arrived, they found family members attempting CPR on the badly burned girl.

    The girl, identified as Gabby Barrett by Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK, was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, where she was pronounced dead. The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the girl’s death a homicide two days later. 

    A GoFundMe page initially set up to help her family bury her has since been removed, but a second one has been established. The second page makes clear that donations will be used by Gabby’s father, Kyle Barrett, to lay his daughter to rest.

    Barrett spoke to WJBK about his daughter Sunday night at a candlelight vigil held in her memory.

    “She didn’t have to pass the way she did, but I hope we get justice for her really soon,” Barrett said. “I know we may not have a lot of information at all, but it just hurts.”

    Police officials said Gabby’s autopsy found multiple traumatic injuries on her body, as well as evidence of old injuries that were consistent with ongoing child abuse, according to police officials. 

    Gabby’s grandmother, Deborah Barrett, described the little girl as a “ball of joy.”

    “She always had a smile on her face, loved to play,” Deborah Barrett said. “She would run around the house when we had her, always with a big ol’ smile on her face.”

    Investigators told WDIV in Detroit that the home where the girl lived with Diaz and Fields was full of animal waste, and that guns and drugs were found on the premises. Child Protective Services and the Michigan State Police are assisting local detectives on the case. 

    Diaz and Fields are believed to be traveling in a black 2002 Chevy Cavalier with Michigan tag number DTR1854, police officials said

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    WDIV reported that the girl’s Jan. 1 death was not the first time police have been called to the couple’s mobile home. Officers had to storm the home on May 20, 2016, after receiving a report of a gunman barricaded inside following a domestic assault.

    Police records show that Diaz told investigators that Fields had beat her and shot her dog before shooting himself in a suicidal outburst, the news station reported. Fields fled the scene, but was later picked up on domestic violence charges. 

    Mugshots released Monday by Sumpter Township police officials appear to stem from charges filed against both Fields and Diaz following that incident. WDIV reported that Diaz was booked on weapons charges at that time. 

    Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Apprehension Team’s 24-hour Detroit-based hotline at 313-234-5656 or the Sumter Township Police Department at 734-461-4833, ext. 305.

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