State will seek death penalty for man charged with toddler's death

Photo source: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

Authorities will seek the death penalty for a man who is charged with first degree felony murder of a young child. Adelynn Merrell, 3, was found dead after she was reported missing in November.

When deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) responded to Cory M. Hagwell's home, deputies report other children in the home were "severely malnourished" and discovered they were routinely confined in bedrooms and closets.

Adelynn was found dead less than a mile from her home in the woods. She had blunt impact injuries to her head and over her body. OCSO believes Hagwell kicked Adelynn in the head and confined her in a closet, where she died. OCSO's investigation reveals Hagwell then removed the child from the home and dumped her body in the woods.

Investigators say the mother, 23-year-old Destinee J. Merrell, has been jailed for accessory after the fact, three counts of child neglect and one count of aggravated child battery.

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