5 Things to Know: Case of 3-Year-Old Who Was Killed and Stuffed in Freezer by Mom and Boyfriend
On Tuesday, Kayleigh's mother and her boyfriend were convicted of murder
Three-year-old Kayleigh Slusher was found dead in her Napa, California, bed in February of 2014. Police say she died from multiple blunt force trauma, and was found partially frozen at her mother’s apartment after her body was put in the freezer.
On Tuesday, her mother, Sarah Lynn Krueger, 27, and Krueger’s 29-year-old boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, were both found guilty of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of torture in the death of Kayleigh. They are scheduled to be sentenced July 27.
Here are five things to know about the disturbing case.
1. Kayleigh Had 41 Injuries on Her Body
An autopsy revealed that Kayleigh had 41 distinguishable injuries all over her body. The fatal injury was a rupture in her small intestine.
“It was tough,” Deputy District Attorney Kecia Lind tells PEOPLE. “The medical examiner described the amount of pain and suffering she would have been in during the time she was dying. It wasn’t a quick process.”
Lind says the couple later told authorities they thought Kayleigh died after she drank something that was poisonous.
“Neither of them had any legitimate explanation for the multitude of bruises and injuries on her body,” she says.
2. Kayleigh’s Body was Put in the Freezer for Several Hours
Soon after she died, Kayleigh’s body was put in a freezer before being taken out and placed on her bed, where she was later found partially frozen by police.
“She was in [the freezer] for at least a number of hours,” says Lind. “Her body was still extremely cold to the touch when the officers found her. We don’t know for sure how long she was in the freezer.”
Lind says Kayleigh died sometime between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. on January 30, about two days before she was discovered.
3. She Had Been Abused for Months Prior to Being Killed
Neighbors had noticed a change in Kayleigh weeks leading up to her tragic death.
“Neighbors in the apartment complex had reported seeing her looking malnourished and appearing with bruises the weeks prior to her dying,” says Lind.
One neighbor said the normally bubbly and outgoing toddler had lost her “sparkle,” Lind says.
Kayleigh’s maternal grandmother had alerted authorities about their fears.
“There were calls made to the police by the maternal grandmother days prior to her being found but nothing that was cause for the child to be removed from the home,” says Lind.
Lind says Krueger had been investigated in the past by child protective services.
4. Methamphetamine ‘Played a Large Role’ in Kayleigh’s Death
During closing arguments, Krueger’s attorney, Jim McEntee, admitted that Krueger had been using methamphetamine leading up the death of her daughter.
Lind agrees: “We believe that their methamphetamine use played a large role in what happened to her.”
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Lind says Warner moved into the apartment about six months earlier and “they basically had her in the apartment with the two of them at all time.”
5. The Couple’s Friend Called 911 — and the Couple Tried to Flee
The investigation began in 2014 when Napa police received a 911 call from the couple’s friend to check on Kayleigh’s welfare.
The friend later told police that he went over to the couple’s apartment the night before and discovered Kayleigh was dead.
“[The friend] didn’t want any part of it so he told them to call the police,” says Lind. “They did not call the police so he took it upon himself to call.”
That same morning, around 10 a.m., Krueger and Warner fled the scene before police arrived but were arrested the following day when a woman spotted them at an IHOP Restaurant.
“They fled the restaurant when they were recognized and arrested shortly thereafter at a BART station in El Cerrito,” says Lind.
Lind says police found searches on Krueger’s cell phone for most populous cities in the U.S.