Authorities classify Wagner toddler death as homicideWAGNER — Prosecutors hope to begin determining later this week what criminal charges could be filed in connection with the July 4 killing of a 2-year-old girl at a home in rural Wagner.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
WAGNER — Prosecutors hope to begin determining later this week what criminal charges could be filed in connection with the July 4 killing of a 2-year-old girl at a home in rural Wagner.
Charles Mix County State’s Attorney Pam Hein said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Republic that reports from state and local investigators need to be completed and reviewed before prosecutors can decide what criminal charges to file in connection with the death of 2-year-old ReiLee Lovell.
Authorities have ruled the death a homicide.
Hein said she hopes to have the reports later this week.
“Because of the gravity of this situation, everyone is trying to be very thorough and stamp out any rumors, and leave no stone unturned,” she said.
An 11-year-old relative of the girl is in custody, and two adults — the girl’s legal guardian and the guardian’s husband — are also in custody on minor, unrelated charges. The adults are not Lovell’s parents.
A July 5 news release sent to The Daily Republic by the Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Office said the boy in custody was 12 years old, but Hein confirmed Wednesday his age is actually 11.
Given the ages of those involved and the circumstances of the case, Hein said the situation could quickly become complicated.
“It’s uncommon. Juvenile on juvenile is not something you see very often,” she said.
The case could be complicated further by jurisdictional issues, as the housing development where the girl’s body was found straddles the jurisdictions for city, state and tribal law enforcement.
Yankton Sioux Tribe Secretary Glenford Sully said there are a lot of officers around, but they can’t always work together as well as they should. He thinks the system needs to be overhauled.
Until investigative reports are reviewed, Hein said the names of those in custody will not be released.
“We have to step very lightly and make sure everybody’s interests are preserved, and find justice in the whole mess,” she said.
Lovell’s name has not been officially released, but has been widely reported.
Investigators have likely completed all the interviews related to the case, Hein said, and once the investigative reports are received, local prosecutors will meet with the officials at the state Attorney General’s Office and decide how to proceed.
Lovell’s death has had an obvious impact on the community, Hein said.
“Any time you have a death of a child, it’s devastating.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.