Cops Say Autistic 8-Year-Old Was Beaten by Mom, Discarded in Trash Bag

·3 min read
Gwinnett County Police
Gwinnett County Police

Months before police discovered the body of an autistic girl in a trash bag miles from her Georgia home, a devastating find that immediately raised suspicions of foul play, her mother had allegedly beaten her and at least two other children and had been investigated by the state’s Department of Human Services.

The murder warrant against Brittany Nicole Hall, 27, details her apparent efforts to cover her tracks after she allegedly called 911 and told dispatchers her 8-year-old daughter Nicole Amari Hall had vanished on Nov. 21.

“I woke up yesterday morning and my daughter wasn’t here,” Hall said at the time, according to WAGA-TV. “The door was cracked. I went outside the whole place. I did not see her. I called 911.”

‘Missing’ Autistic 8-Year-Old Was Actually Murdered, Police Say

Authorities in Gwinnett County said they later discovered the child’s battered body in a trash bag dumped in a wooded area 15 miles from the HomeTowne Studios Hotel in Peachtree Corners where Hall and her daughter were staying.

Authorities said at that time that it was not immediately clear what caused the little girl’s death but police quickly countered her mom’s claims that the girl had simply wandered off.

“I can’t speculate on why they reported her as missing. But our investigation revealed Amari was not, in fact, missing. Very early in the investigation, we began to suspect foul play,” Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure told reporters during a press conference after investigators found the child’s body around 10:45 a.m on Nov. 23.

By the end of the week, murder charges had been filed against both Hall and her partner, Celeste Owens, 29.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Celeste Owens</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Gwinnett Country Police</div>

Celeste Owens

Gwinnett Country Police

Hall was initially charged with concealing her daughter’s death while Owens was charged with felony murder. She was later charged with murder, too. Both women also face charges of child cruelty and concealing the child’s death.

According to a felony murder warrant against the mother obtained by the Gwinnett Daily Post, the little girl died from battered child syndrome, and Hall and Owens are accused of beating the child “over a prolonged period” eventually resulting in her death.

According to a child cruelty warrant obtained by the Daily Post, Hall punched and kicked Amari on the day she told police the little girl had gone missing. The warrant details further allegations of video recordings of Amari being beaten along with two other children in July and August.

Why Did This Black Child Go Missing and No One Noticed?

The murder warrant for her mother’s arrest is the latest development in a grim case that police believe involved multiple victims.

The warrant states that on July 20, months before Amari's death, Owens had blindfolded a little boy as he slept on the floor and “slapped the victim on the face and kicked him on ground.”

Owens stomped on the kid’s back on at least two other occasions, according to the warrant. She similarly stomped on another girl’s back before kicking her and “moving her across the room,” in August, the warrant states.

Owens is accused of approaching Amari as she sat on the floor on July 20 and with her open hand “slapped the victim in the front of her face causing her head to whip back quickly.”

Warrants obtained by WXIA-TV also detail Hall punching and kicking children including a victim who “was laying on the floor.” A warrant states that the “mother of the victim stood over her and used a belt or cord and whipped the victim on her legs.”

Another warrant claims Hall “walked over to the victim and slapped the victim 11 times on the back, the incident was video recorded.”

According to WXIA-TV, investigators from Georgia’s Department of Human Services had looked into Hall in 2015 and 2017. A 2021 agency report “contained no allegations of abuse or neglect,” the agency said in a statement to the outlet.

Hall’s other children have been placed in the care of Georgia’s Division of Family & Children Services.

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