The mystery of a little 6-year-old girl who was found frozen to death outside of her home in February in frigid temperatures has concluded with the arrest of her cousin, 22-year-old Rachel Downer. Mercedes Mayfield was found unconscious in the entrance to her apartment building on a night when temps dipped to - 40 degrees. The girl was dressed but may have been outside overnight, something that would have been difficult for an adult to survive, let alone a child. Downer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and felony neglect of a child.
No one seems to know yet exactly how the girl ended up outside. Had she wandered outside and no one noticed? Had she been outside and her caretaker went to sleep and forgot about her? Oddly, it wasn't even her cousin who called 911, it was a neighbor as well as the girl's mother -- so if the girl's mother was around, why is it her cousin who has been arrested? Perhaps the mother had left the cousin in charge of the girl and when she came home, discovered the girl frozen in the entryway.
Another mystery is how the girl got into the entry -- did she go there herself, or was she found unconscious outside and brought inside? Had she dressed herself and went outside, or did someone dress her and put her outside and then didn't let her back in?
Whatever happened, police must believe that this wasn't just a terrible accident, but there was severe recklessness and neglect involved for the cousin to be charged.
What a tragedy for the family for Mercedes to die in such a cruel and horrific fashion -- frozen to death when steps away there was warmth and help if only she could have gotten to it.
What do you think happened?
Image via Bemidji Police Deparment