Phoenix police: 4 people arrested in child's death

July 28, 2011 - 4:29 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — Four people were arrested in the death of a 10-year-old girl whom police said Thursday had been placed inside a plastic container for punishment.

During the initial investigation, family members told police that Ame Deal and other children in her family had been playing hide and seek, and they believed that Ame must have climbed into the box to hide and accidentally suffocated.

However, detectives said they're now treating the July 12 death as a homicide after determining the child had been placed in the box as punishment.

"This child died at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her," police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said. "This case has turned the stomachs of some of our most seasoned detectives."

Police arrested Judith Deal, 62, Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and John and Samantha Allen, both 23.

The Allens were charged with first-degree murder. Stoltzmann and Deal were charged with child abuse and kidnapping.

It couldn't be immediately determined if the four suspects have attorneys. Their relationships to the child were unclear.