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Hocking County couple indicted for murder in death of 2-year-old girl

At the time of the incident, the sheriff's office said that evidence shows the child had suffered from abuse.
Credit: (Images Courtesy: Hocking County Sheriff's Office)

HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio — A father and his girlfriend have been indicted on multiple charges in connection with the death of a 2-year-old Hocking County girl earlier this year.

Twenty-five-year-old Austin Starkey and 27-year-old Destiny Neel were arrested and charged back in January after Arianna Starkey died.

The sheriff's office says they were called Jan. 8 about a possible case of child abuse that had taken place at the Hayden Place apartment complex.

Hocking County EMS went to the apartment on a report that a child was not breathing. Arianna was taken to Hocking Valley Community Hospital and later taken to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

She died on Jan. 10 at Nationwide Children's Hospital from her injuries, according to the sheriff's office.

On Monday, Hocking County Prosecuting Attorney Ryan R. Black and Hocking County Sheriff Lanny E. North announced the indictment against Starkey and Neel.

According to authorities, investigators were able to determine the couple’s original story of how Arianna’s injuries occurred was not factual. They said the initial story was fabricated in an attempt to hide that the injuries were actually the result of an assault.

At the time of the incident, the sheriff's office said that evidence shows the child had suffered from abuse.

Starkey was indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault, permitting child abuse, endangering children and tampering with evidence.

Neel was indicted on charges of murder, aggravated murder, felonious assault and endangering children.

The indictment contains the specification for a victim under the age of 13, which does include the possibility of the death penalty.