Mercedes Lain was found dead in the Indiana woods Wednesday night. Plymouth Police arrested and charged her parents – Kenneth Lain, 41, and Tiffany Coburn, 32 – and the babysitter, Justin Miller.
Mercedes’ parents, reported her missing last Sunday after her sitter didn’t return. Miller had been asked to watch Mercedes Lain for a couple of days while her parents took the weekend off. After the child was reported missing, police issued a Silver Alert hoping to get more information about the child’s whereabouts.
A massive search was started for the little girl following the Silver Alert. Members of the local and state police along with the FBI were all involved. At the beginning of the investigation, there were many conflicting stories from Miller and the child’s parents about what happened to Mercedes Lain.
According to police, this is what Miller told them. He originally told police that he had last seen the child on Saturday when he left her with a neighbor, but later changed his story. He also told police that he had left the child with a mysterious woman that was staying at the same motel where Mercedes’ parents were spending the weekend. That was also a lie.
The truth was that Miller brought Mercedes Lain to his girlfriend’s house on Friday in Mishawaka, and he woke up Saturday morning and found the little girl dead. He then disposed of her body in the Indiana woods in Stark County. After many interviews, it was Miller that led police to her body.
“We waited for crime scene investigators to arrive and process the scene and it was several hours before Mercedes’s body was removed from the area,” said Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman.
Police also discovered that over the weekend when the child went missing Miller, Lain and Coburn were using synthetic marijuana and meth.
Justin Miller has been charged with one count of child neglect resulting in death. Her parents have also been charged with neglect for allegedly leaving her with Miller. Police have not released how the child died.
“The search for Mercedes Lain, 11-months-old, ended at approximately 9:30 p.m. in a remote, obscure, densely forested area,” Chipman said.
The public was informed of the child’s death in a Thursday press conference by Plymouth, Ind. Police. Many members of the police department wanted to find the little girl alive and were saddened by the results of the investigation. During the press conference, the department made the following statement.
“Officers have children. When you’re dealing with a child, it’s obviously different. Anybody that has a child, there’s that special love and so you never want to see this happen,” said Plymouth Police Chief David Bacon.
Mercedes’ parents are scheduled to appear in court this morning while Miller’s court date will be early next week. It is unclear whether either party has entered a plea deal or retained a lawyer.
Police are waiting on autopsy results to gain more insight into the death of Mercedes Lain. They don’t believe that her parents had anything to do with her passing. The investigation is ongoing.