Police have found the body of a four-year-old Kentucky girl who has been missing for more than a year – and have charged the girl’s mother and her live-in boyfriend with the child’s murder.
Slain Serenity McKinney’s remains were found Friday in brush along a winding road lined by woods in West Point, Kentucky, after her disappearance on December 24 of 2020 had confounded Kentucky State police for nearly 14 months.
Serenity was not reported missing until more than a year later, by her grandparents, in January, after the girl’s mother, Catherine McKinney skipped town, nixing contact with other family members and refusing to cooperate with police.
Slain Serenity McKinney’s remains were found Friday in West Point, Kentucky, after her disappearance in December 2020 had confounded Kentucky State police for nearly 14 months
Charlotte McKinney, at left, and boyfriend Dakota Hill, 26, are facing murder charges following the discovery, and are currently in police custody. The pair have also been charged with abuse of the preschooler’s corpse.
Serenity was last seen at the family’s home in Shelby County – about an hour from the section of road where she was discovered.
Authorities have not disclosed the details of the child’s death, but the discovery does provide some closure as to her disappearance.
Police said that both McKinney and her boyfriend, Dakota Hill, 26, are facing murder charges following the discovery, and are currently in police custody.
The pair have also been charged with abuse of the preschooler’s corpse.
Serenity was last seen at the family’s home in Shelby County – about an hour from the section of road where she was discovered. Cops began a search for here more than a year after she was last seen by family members last month, and recovered her corpse Friday
Serenity’s grandparents say McKinney cut off contact with them in the fall, telling them Serenity was ok despite family members having no contact with the child over the past year, spurring them to report her missing last month.
‘This is out of her character,’ step-grandmother Aundrea Wainscott told WHAS earlier this month. ‘She had gotten back in contact with us through messenger, pretty much saying they’re OK, but still wouldn’t let us talk to Serenity or show us Serenity.
Police say that when they contacted McKinney, she refused to cooperate and left the family’s Shelby County home earlier this year. The couple were subsequently arrested in Kansas last week and extradited to Kentucky – where they remained when the body was discovered by Kentucky State Troopers.
Family members say McKinney cut off contact with them in the fall, telling them Serenity was ok despite family members having no contact with the child over the past year, spurring them to report her missing last month. Cops say that Hill was also involved with her disappearance
‘It’s just absolutely heart wrenching. It’s tough,’ Kentucky State Police Trooper Scotty Sharp told WDRB of the discovery.
The officer added that crimes such as the one allegedly committed by McKinney and Hill take an ’emotional toll’ on officers and investigators, as well as victims’ family.
‘Obviously, it’s tragic,’ Sharp said. ‘And we hoped it turned out better, but everybody gave their 110 percent, and one way or another, we wanted to find out what happened to Serenity.’
Serenity’s body was transferred by the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office to the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office in Louisville for an autopsy that took place Saturday morning. The results have not yet been released.
Days before police’s discovery of the body, the girl’s father, Dave Justice, reportedly received text messages from an unidentified source saying that they knew where Serenity was, cryptically claiming that she was in a suitcase, the Sun reported.
‘I know someone who knows where your daughter is,’ the first unprompted message read.
Justice proceeded to question the unidentified tipster, threatening to get police involved and trying to call the number to no avail, who then responded with a chilling, typo-laden declaration as to Serenity’s whereabouts.
‘From what I kno, she’s in a suitcase,’ the sender’s second message read.
Serenity’s savaged body was recovered among brush along this winding road lined by woods in West Point
McKinney with daughter Serenity prior to her disappearance. Cops allege that the mom covered up the kid’s disappearance – and eventually murder – for more than a year as family and friends grew suspicious as to the fate of the preschooler
Authorities have not disclosed the details of the child’s death, but the discovery does provide some closure as to her disappearance
It is not clear how deep in the woods Serenity’s body was when cops came across it Friday. Kentucky State Police and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office have not yet revealed the child’s cause of death
Justice told the paper of the exchange Friday – the day his daughter was discovered – ‘I just want my baby girl home.’
At the time, he did not know police had recovered his daughter’s body.
‘It was the worst thing anyone could possibly hear in my shoes,’ Justice said, noting that the sender was a woman. ‘She messaged me again 12 hours later still harassing me.’
‘I think it is an account being used kind of as like a patsy for the real person, but I cant say who it is for sure, but I believe she knows who has her.’
Justice reported the strange interaction to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, which has been leading the investigation.
It is currently not clear if police found Serenity’s body in a suitcase, as the unidentified informant claimed. DailyMail.com reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff’s office regarding the claim Sunday morning, but did not immediately receive a response.
The details surrounding Serenity’s disappearance and death are currently under investigation.