"An 8-year-old lost her life and she didn't need to," said neighbor Sabrina McWilliam

By Chris Harris
August 20, 2020 10:13 AM
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Autumn Hallow
| Credit: Gofundme

A neighbor of the Minnesota couple accused of starving and killing the man's 8-year-old daughter says she called the police at least five times within the last year to report them for alleged abuse.

"An 8-year-old lost her life and she didn't need to," Sabrina McWilliam, a resident of The Depot at Elk River Station apartment complex in Elk River, told WCCO. "When I heard it was this family, I wasn't surprised."

McWilliam told the station she has overheard verbal abuse coming from inside the apartment where little Autumn Hallow was allegedly killed by her father, Brett Hallow, 30, and her stepmother, 28-year-old Sarah Hallow.

Two other children living in the home were unharmed, according to police in Elk River.

"You can sit out here any time of the day and hear both of them screaming at these kids, cussing at them," McWilliam told WCCO.

According to McWilliam, she called the police to report what she heard repeatedly.

“Oh at least 5 times this year, at least,” she said, adding she watched as authorities took Autumn's father into custody.

Autumn Hallow
| Credit: Gofundme

"He was sitting with the police and there were no tears on his face," said McWilliam. "If my child had just died four hours ago, my face would be red, puffy, I would show emotion. He just sat there."

Brett and Sarah Hallow have each been charged with single counts of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. They have been in custody without bond since Friday.

According to a charging documents obtained by the Star Tribune, police allege the Hallows physically abused Autumn Hallow inside their apartment, often tying the girl up if they felt she had misbehaved.

The couple allegedly withheld food from Autumn, allowing the girl to waste away physically. Autumn weighed 45 lbs. at death.

Officers were called to the couple's apartment last Thursday, arriving to find Sarah Hallow in a bedroom performing chest compressions on Autumn's rigid body.

Police noted that the girl's fingers were blue and detected abrasions and "pin-like" marks on her forehead, and they found blood in the bathroom, according to the documents.

Brett and Sarah Hallow
| Credit: Sherburne County Jail

The Hallows allegedly told police they found Autumn face-down and partially submerged in a bathtub. They moved her to the bedroom and attempted to revive her, they allegedly said, according to the documents.

However, an autopsy on Autumn's remains showed puncture wounds on her head as well as abdominal and brain bleeding. Her hips and hands also showed signs of bruising.

"Based on the condition of [Autumn's] body, law enforcement believed [she] had been deceased for some time," reads the charging documents, which note Autumn — who had atrophied muscles and significant hair loss — likely died from asphyxiation.

An autopsy found fatal injuries pointing to her being asphyxiated, along with wounds to her head.

During the course of their investigation, detectives spoke to other children who live in the home.

The couple's son, 6, allegedly said his parents would tie Autumn up with a belt before putting her in a sleeping bag, leaving only her head exposed. The boy also said they'd used a shirt to tie her hands behind her back, the documents allege.

Autumn was forced to sleep while restrained after "she is being bad," the boy said. The documents, according to the paper, allege the couple punished Autumn for urinating on the floor or in her clothing or trying to get food.

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Their 10-year-old daughter made similar allegations, saying Autumn was also be tied up to prevent her from accessing medications.

The couple, who have not entered pleas in court, allegedly denied ever tying Autumn up.

Neither defendant has an attorney of record who could comment on the allegations.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established online to cover Autumn's funeral costs.