Couple captured in South Ga. charged in torture, death of 4-year-old

Brad Edward Fields and Candice Diaz Fields were arrested in connection to the death of 4 year old Gabrielle Barrett. The Michigan couple were arrested Jan. 9, 2018, near Lake Park, Ga. (Sumpter Township Police Department)
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Brad Edward Fields and Candice Diaz Fields were arrested in connection to the death of 4 year old Gabrielle Barrett. The Michigan couple were arrested Jan. 9, 2018, near Lake Park, Ga. (Sumpter Township Police Department)

A Michigan mother and her boyfriend charged in an apparent torturing death of a 4-year-old girl were captured in South Georgia on Tuesday following a multi-state manhunt.

Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and her boyfriend, Brad Edward Fields, 28, were arrested by U.S. Marshals and Lowndes County sheriff’s officers near Lake Park, not far from the Florida state line. The two are suspected in the Jan. 1 death of Diaz’s 4-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Renae “Gabby” Barrett.

The pair, both residents of Sumpter Township, Michigan, face charges of felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture. Fields has also been charged as a habitual offender. Both are being held without bond in the Lowndes County jail, awaiting extradition to Michigan.

Lowndes County officials did not respond to a request for information on the capture of the couple.

The case has now been turned over to the Wayne County, Michigan Prosecutor’s Office. Wayne County spokeswoman Maria Miller said there will be no extradition hearing, which means it will take about three weeks for Diaz and Fields to arrive back in Michigan.

According to a media release on the Sumpter Township police Facebook page, officers responded to a 911 call on the morning of Jan. 1 reporting an unresponsive child at the Rawsonville Woods Mobile Home Community. When police arrived, they found family members administering CPR to the girl, who had severe burns on her arms and legs.

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The U.S. Marshals Service is searching for Estefania Roman-Aguilar, Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta said. Roman-Aguilar allegedly told police she suffocated her baby to death with a pillow. She is charged with malice murder, felony murder and cruelty to children. Crime stoppers said authorities believe she is hiding "somewhere in the southeast." She may be with her father, Jose Hilario-Gomez, who is wanted in DeKalb County on an armed robbery charge.

The girl was taken to Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she was pronounced dead soon after arrival. The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide after finding multiple traumatic injuries and signs the girl had been repeatedly abused over a long period of time.

Police said in an emailed statement they been to Diaz and Fields’ residence on one other occasion, while responding to a domestic dispute on May 20, 2016, but there were no children in the home at that time. According to the same statement, Gabrielle was in her maternal grandmother’s custody at the time of her death and had only moved to her mother’s residence over the summer to attend school in the area.

On a GoFundMe page Gabrielle’s paternal grandparents set up to pay for her funeral expenses, her grandfather, Jerry Barrett, responded to criticisms that he should have intervened in the girl’s abuse, writing, “If you have been watching close you would see that they have lied to us and would not give her to us to see only on few occasions.”

Her paternal grandmother, Deborah Oulette Barrett, posted her gratitude for the outpouring of donations on her Facebook page.

“In no way shape or form is this easy,” she wrote, “I wish it was a dream. Now hope we get justice and can put Gabrielle to rest as she was when she was with us beautiful full of smiles when we had her.”

A memorial service will be held on Sunday in Westland, Mich.

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