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An Indiana woman who allegedly knew her boyfriend killed her 3-year-old son will serve 20 years in prison on a drug charge

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 18, 2017 08:22 PM
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Credit: Wells County Sheriff’s Department

An Indiana woman who allegedly knew her boyfriend killed her 3-year-old son will serve 20 years in prison on a drug charge, after the other charges connected to the boy’s death were dropped, PEOPLE confirms.

Breanna Arnold, 22, was sentenced on Tuesday, according to a Wells County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office news release. She was facing several charges — including neglect of a dependent, obstruction of justice, abuse of a corpse and dealing methamphetamine — after her son died in 2015. Authorities say she had no role in his killing.

All but one of Arnold’s charges were dropped in December, when she pleaded guilty to preparing methamphetamine in excess of five grams in a home occupied by children, a Wells County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office official tells PEOPLE. She was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years, with two-and-a-half years suspended.

On Jan. 17, 2015, Arnold’s son Owen Collins died in the mobile home outside of Bluffton, Indiana, that she shared with boyfriend Zachary Barnes and friend Zachary Barker, according to prosecutors.

On Jan. 18, 2015, Arnold reported her son missing. His body was found by police during their investigation into his disappearance.

Arnold initially told police she didn’t know what happened to her son, and investigators believed Owen died from exposure to meth. However, an autopsy later determined that Owen died of blunt force trauma — and Arnold knew more about his death than she told investigators, prosecutors said.

Owen was fatally hit by Barnes, who has a history of violence and drug use, according to authorities. The boy’s body was then allegedly wrapped in plastic and hid in a dresser by Arnold and Barnes, before Barnes and Barker tried to chop it up.

Owen’s body was later taken to the woods nearby and set on fire, where it was discovered.

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Zachary Barnes
| Credit: Wells County Sheriff’s Department

Wells County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Harvey has claimed that Arnold knew what happened to her son and withheld information from police for up to 12 hours following Owen’s death.

Arnold said, in a statement read by her attorney, that the child was killed that January day while she was trying to protect her other son — and she could not have done anything out of fear for their lives, the Journal Gazette reports.

She admitted Owen “had been denied a life because of her poor judgment,” according to the Journal Gazette, which paraphrased her statement. (Her attorney could not be reached.)

Arnold’s attorney argued that she had a hard upbringing, and he called multiple character witnesses, including teachers — but prosecutors said she had turned to drugs despite offered help from others, even cooking meth in her home in the months before Owen died, the Gazette reports.

Barnes, Arnold’s boyfriend, pleaded guilty to murder and in August 2015 was sentenced to 50 years in prison, Wells County Prosecutor’s Office officials tell PEOPLE.

Barker, who was 16 at the time of the death, admitted to being guilty of abuse of a corpse and dealing meth. He was originally charged with neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury, neglect of a dependent and altering the scene of a death, prosecutors said. But those charges were dropped in return for a guilty plea. He was sentenced to 14 and a half years.

Arnold must serve more than 15 years of her sentence to be eligible for release.