A Northern California mother and her boyfriend have been charged with murder and assault on a child, stemming from the death of her 3-year-old daughter, whose body was found in the mother's apartment over the weekend, authorities said.
Court documents indicate the body of Kayleigh Slusher was stored in a suitcase and then a freezer for three days, and that the little girl was "beaten to death" before that.
The mother of the 3-year-old Napa girl and the mother's boyfriend allegedly stored Kayleigh's body in a suitcase, then a freezer, for three days, according to court documents.
The girl's mother, Sara Kreuger, 23, and her boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, 26, were charged on Tuesday by the Napa County District Attorney. After the girl's death, the couple fled, but were later taken into custody at the El Cerrito del Norte BART station.
On Saturday, Kayleigh was found dead on a bed at her mother's apartment in the 200 block of Wilkins Avenue in Napa. When police were conducting a welfare check on the girl, they said they found signs of foul play, including blunt-force trauma.
“Rarely do we have things of this level here in this community,” Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said. “We're a bedroom community. It's quiet for the most part. This type of crime rarely occurs. It's shocking, shocking to everybody.”
The district attorney said Kreuger and Warner could face additional charges. A pathologist is still trying to determine whether the 3-year-old suffered sexual assault. If those charges are added, this could become a death penalty case.
Napa police on Monday confirmed that they were called to Krueger's residence 10 times last year for various crime reports, including domestic violence.
This year, Troendly said, officers were called out to the home on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 because they heard reports that the mom was allegedly using drugs and that her daughter hadn't been fed.
“There was nothing to indicate that anybody was impaired in any way where that child would have been in danger when that officer left,” Troendly said Tuesday.
However, he said, police conducted a field sobriety test on the mother and boyfriend, and interviewed Kayleigh, clearing the scene without finding anything amiss.
Lawyer Mervin Lernhart appeared with Krueger on Tuesday. He pointed out that nothing has been proven.
“She's been accused,” Lernhart said after court, “but she's presumed innocent at this time.”
The pair will be back in court Feb. 25 to enter pleas.