The two people who admitted to locking 10-year-old Ame Deal in a tiny footlocker — where she ultimately died last month — have been formally indicted on first-degree murder charges.
In addition to the murder charges, Sammantha Allen — Ame's cousin — and her husband, John Allen, have been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse, and multiple counts of child abuse.
The abuse, as we've noted in prior posts, was punishment for "stealing" a Popsicle on a hot July day in Phoenix.
"This horrific case has deeply disturbed not only the citizens of Maricopa County, but people throughout the country as it offends the essence of what it means to be a parent or guardian of a young child," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says in a statement. "Instead of caring for Ame Deal, we are alleging that these family members utterly failed her. My office will spare no effort in seeking justice for Ame and ensuring the public has confidence in the result."
Two of Ame's other relatives — her aunt, Cynthia Stolzmann, and her grandmother, Judith Deal — were each charged with multiple counts of child abuse for also abusing the girl.
MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb tells New Times that no decision has been made about whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the Allens.
Below, we'll again provide details of the horrific abuse Ame suffered at the hands of her relatives. It's pretty horrible stuff — you've been warned.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, the abuse of Ame includes frequently getting locked in the footlocker, being forced to eat dog feces, getting beaten with a wooden paddle her family referred to as a "butt buster," being forced to sleep in a shower stall with no pillow or blankets, getting forced to do "back bends" for hours, and having hot sauce shoved in her mouth.
All of the aforementioned abuse was "punishment" for doing things like "lying" and stealing food.
Deal was one of about 12 children living in a filthy house near 35th Avenue and Broadway Road in Phoenix under the guardianship of her grandmother, 62-year-old Judith Deal, her aunt, Cynthia Stolzmann, and her cousin and her husband, John and Sammantha Allen, each 23.
According to court documents, Ame was the only of the 12 children who was tortured by the family, and the other children would intentionally do things to get Deal in trouble.
Initially, the death was made to look like an accident. The family told police Ame was playing hide-and-seek when she must have fallen asleep inside the footlocker. Everyone had gone to sleep and forgotten about her, they said.
The family even coached the other children on how to lie to police
However, also living on the property were several people — including Ame's father and two of his other children — who lived in tents in the backyard of the disgusting home. After Ame's body was found, several people living in the backyard told police about the abuse.
According to one witness, he listened one night as Stolzmann was screaming at Ame while she was in her "bedroom"/shower stall. She was beating Ame because she had "wetted herself."
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Other witnesses watched Sammantha Allen put Ame in the footlocker as John Allen would kick it and pick it up and flip it over with Ame inside.
When Ame was picking up dog feces in the yard one day, she missed some. Stolzmann, witnesses say, forced her to eat the excrement as punishment.
On the night of her death, John Allen admitted to forcing Ame to position herself in a "back bend" (her hands and feet were on the floor with her back arched up) for over two hours after she "stole" a Popsicle. When she would fall, he says he physically put her back into position.
After the two hours of "back bends," Allen told Ame to go outside and get the footlocker. When she returned, he put her inside. Concerned she might be able to get out, he locked it with a padlock. Then he went to sleep. In the morning, Ame was found dead inside the box.