A Michigan couple is accused of killing the woman’s 4-year-old daughter after repeatedly restraining her in bed by wrapping her in blankets held together by duct tape, PEOPLE confirms.
Kelly Ballinger, 33, and fiancé Matthew Longenecker, 34, appeared in Kalamazoo County District Court where they were charged with murder and first-degree child abuse on Tuesday, a court official tells PEOPLE.
On Sunday, Kalamazoo police responded to a call of a child not breathing. The unidentified child, who in court was referred to as D.T., had CPR performed on her for nearly an hour before she was pronounced dead, according to a detective testimony on Tuesday.
The child’s body was allegedly covered in bruises and she appeared to have suffered from severe trauma, the detective stated. A police pathologist ruled her death a homicide.
Ballinger and her three children were staying at Longnecker’s mother’s residence, a family member told WWMT.
The 911 call was made by the boyfriend’s mother shortly before 5 a.m., a family member told the network. During police questioning, the couple allegedly confessed to restraining the girl nightly for the past two weeks using duct tape and blankets. Text messages found on their phones allegedly corroborated their claims, a detective told the judge Tuesday.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
The couple allegedly told investigators they would wrap the girl in blankets at night to form a “makeshift swaddle” with her face sometimes covered, the detective testified. The swaddle was then wrapped in duct tape to keep her inside. She would stay in the restraint, unable to remove, until the next morning, when she was unwrapped, the parents allegedly admitted, according to the detective.
On the day of her death, the girl’s face was covered, her mother told detectives, Michigan Live reports.
Two other children found in the home were taken into Child Protective Services. Both Bullinger and Longnecker were denied bond and appointed public defenders. PEOPLE was unable to immediately reach their lawyers.
They have not yet entered a plea, a court official tells PEOPLE.