Sumpter Township, MI – A Michigan couple who are accused of torturing and murdering a 4-year-old girl were captured in southern Georgia on Tuesday, investigators said.
Candice Diaz, 24, and Brad Fields, 28, were spotted as they drove near Lake Park, Georgia, and were apprehended by the U.S. Marshals and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department just before 4 p.m., the Sumpter Township Police Department said in a Tuesday Facebook post.
Police said that Diaz and Fields – who was not the child’s father – had been on the run since the little girl’s death.
Police were called to the family’s residence on Jan. 1 at 10:43 a.m., and arrived to find family members attempting to perform CPR on a lifeless 4-year-old girl in the living room of the home.
The child had “obvious” wounds from severe burns on her arms and legs, and was rushed for emergency medical treatment.
She was pronounced dead shortly after she arrived at the hospital.
The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner ruled the girl’s death as a homicide on Jan. 3, WXYZ reported. Her body also showed evidence of Battered Child Syndrome, and numerous traumatic injuries.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the medical examiner described this incident as the “worst child death case” in 27 years of practice.
The little girl’s body was so badly burned that one of her toes fell off, and police found her melted skin in the drain of the bathtub, according to a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights to Barrett’s half-sister.
“Gabrielle had burns all over her body and bruising to her entire body,” the document read, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The petition noted that Diaz told police that her young daughter injured herself when she ran her own bath water on Dec. 31. She claimed that the hot water burned Barrett’s skin, but that she did not seek medical attention for her child.
Diaz went on to tell investigators that her daughter wanted another bath on the day she died.
"The mother claimed she ran Gabrielle's bath and placed Gabrielle into the tub after she filled the tub halfway," the petition said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "The mother then claimed she left Gabrielle alone in the tub and went to the kitchen to make pancakes."
She claimed she returned to the bathroom and found her daughter submerged. Diaz said that Barrett vomited when she pulled her out of the tub.
"The mother said she called Brad ... to the bathroom for help," the document read, according to the Detroit Free Press. "According to the mother, Gabrielle continued to vomit, and Fields attempted to provide CPR."
Police said the couple waited another 36 minutes before they called 911 to help the little girl.
According to the Detroit Free Press, police also found cocaine in the home.
Diaz and Fields have been charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, and torture, WDIV reported.
Fields was also charged with a habitual offender offense.
Investigators were familiar with the couple, and had been to their residence in the past.
According to WDIV, police were called to the home on May 20, 2016, after Diaz reported that her boyfriend had beaten her and shot her dog.
She told investigators that her boyfriend was suicidal, and that he also shot himself.
Police SWAT teams responded, and investigators later found animal waste, guns, and drugs inside the home.
According to WJBK, Fields was arrested for firearm possession, firearm possession by a felon, and domestic violence on May 20, 2016, but was not convicted.
Diaz was sentenced to probation in July of 2016, for charges of firearm possession, altering identification, and possession of prescription forms.
The little girl’s father, Kyle Barret, said he last saw his daughter in September of 2017, just before he turned himself in to police for an outstanding warrant, the Detroit Free Press reported. He was released from jail on Jan. 3, two days after she was murdered.