Penny Short Hartle is behind bars in connection with the death of her daughter, Caroline Rose Cagle

By Harriet Sokmensuer
April 27, 2021 02:58 PM
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Caroline Rose Cagle
Credit: Facebook

A North Carolina mother is accused of stabbing her 5-year-old daughter to death, weeks after the girl celebrated her birthday.

Penny Short Hartle, 50, is behind bars without bail in Henderson County jail. She is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the April 25 death of her daughter.

According to the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, on Sunday morning, officers were dispatched to a reported stabbing at a home in the unincorporated Fruitland community. Upon arrival, first responders found the child dead. It was determined she had been stabbed to death.

Authorities arrested Hartle. A motive remains unknown.

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Penny Short Hartle
Credit: Hendersonville Sheriff's Office

Authorities have released few details about the case. Local station WLOS has identified the victim as Caroline Rose Cagle. Neighbors told the station her father, Wayne, found her unresponsive on Sunday.

"He was my former brother-in-law," Alan Wilson said. "He was a wonderful father to Caroline. He worked hard, went to work every day and when he came home all his time was with her."

According to her older sister's Facebook, Caroline had celebrated her fifth birthday with her family on March 28.

"What a wonderful 5th Birthday my sister Caroline Rose [had]," her older sister captioned a series of photos from the day, explaining that the girl had a great time and then went to an Easter egg hunt.

On Monday, Beth Stang, Henderson County's chief public defender, told WLOS her office would be appointing an attorney for Hartle in the next three to five days.