Two people arrested in Louisiana girl’s death and her sister’s captivity are charged with murder and sexual assault, police say

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Daniel Callihan, left, and Victoria Cox have been charged in Mississippi with capital murder and sexual assault, according to the Jackson, Mississippi, police chief.



CNN

Two people arrested in Mississippi — including a man accused of killing a Louisiana woman last week and kidnapping her 4- and 6-year-old daughters, one of whom was found dead — have each been charged with murder punishable by death and sexual assault in the children’s section. case, Mississippi police said Monday.

Daniel Callihan and Victoria Cox were arrested last week in Mississippi after authorities searching for the missing girls found the 4-year-old dead and the 6-year-old injured Thursday at a location in Jackson, investigators said. This could be linked to human trafficking, authorities had said.

Louisiana authorities said Callihan was accused of killing the children’s mother, Callie Brunett, at her home in Loranger, La., and kidnapping the girls – a case that prompted investigators to issue an alert Amber for the children hours before police found them more than 100 miles north in Jackson.

Callihan and Cox are charged in Mississippi with crimes against children, Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade said Monday. Charges in Louisiana and federal charges are still pending, Wade said.

Cox is accused of being Callihan’s accomplice, Wade said without elaborating. CNN was unable to identify attorneys for Callihan or Wade.

Wade said he believed the 4-year-old girl, whose body was found unburied in the woods behind a Jackson home, had been suffocated or died of asphyxiation. The cause of death will be determined by a medical examiner, he said.

When asked if Mississippi would seek the death penalty, Wade said the decision would be made by prosecutors, but “I think if there’s a case that could definitely rise to the level of the death penalty , that would be it – because I still have the site of that 4 year old child who died in the woods imprinted in my head.

“We have no plans at this time at the state level to charge anyone else besides those two,” Wade said Monday. “The city of Jackson, (the state of) Louisiana and the entire Gulf South region are better places because these two are behind bars.”

Authorities have not discussed the motives for the deaths of Brunett and the 4-year-old, or the children’s abductions.

During a court appearance Monday, Cox claimed she had nothing to do with what Callihan is accused of and that both girls were alive the last time she saw them in Jackson, according to WLBT , CNN affiliate.

A judge said Monday that Cox could be held without the possibility of bail on the capital murder charge, and bail for Cox’s sexual battery charge was set at $500,000, WLBT reported.

An Amber Alert was issued Thursday for Brunett’s daughters after Brunett was found dead in her southeast Louisiana home, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana said. The alert said a man — who authorities later said was Callihan — was wanted “for questioning regarding an incident of domestic violence, which occurred around the time of the kidnapping and resulted in a homicide.”

Investigators believe Callihan dated Brunett “on and off,” Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Jimmy Travis said last week.

Hours after the Amber Alert, law enforcement in Jackson — about 130 miles north of Brunett’s Louisiana home — tracked down Callihan and discovered a “tragic scene,” Wade said.

After a short chase, Callihan was arrested in a wooded area near a Jackson home and authorities found the 4-year-old’s body, according to Wade. The 6-year-old was found injured and taken to a hospital, police said.

The 6-year-old is still recovering in Jackson, Wade said Monday.

Small cages and small electrical enclosures at the Jackson site led investigators to believe human trafficking may have occurred there, Wade said Monday.

Cox was arrested Friday at a south Jackson motel, Wade said.

As Callihan was escorted Friday by officers from Jackson police headquarters, a reporter asked him why he would kill the girl.

“I have no reason for what I did,” Callihan told reporters. He added that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Callihan, in his discussions with investigators, did not deny anything and implicated Cox, Wade said Monday. Cox is an acquaintance of Callihan, the chief said last week.

A GoFundMe page has been created “to lovingly support the Brunett family during a time of unimaginable suffering” to raise money for funeral expenses for Brunett and her 4-year-old daughter, and to help the family and surviving child to get through this tragedy.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe, Mallika Kallingal and Sarah Dewberry contributed to this report.

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