Police: Girl Forced To Run 3 Hours Dies; 2 Charged - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Police: Girl Forced To Run 3 Hours Dies; 2 Charged

ATTALLA, Ala. (AP) – At a doublewide trailer along a dirt road in rural Alabama, authorities say 9-year-old Savannah Hardin was forced to run for three hours as punishment for having lied to her grandmother about eating candy bars. The severely dehydrated girl had a seizure and her death days later was ruled a homicide.

Her grandmother and stepmother who police say meted out the punishment are in jail, facing murder charges Wednesday.

Witnesses told deputies that Savannah was told to run and not allowed to stop for three hours on Friday, an Etowah County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said. The girl's stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, called police at 6:45 p.m., telling them that Savannah was having a seizure and was unresponsive.

Neighbor Roger Simpson said he saw a little girl running at around 4 p.m., but didn't see anybody chasing or coercing her.

"I saw her running down there, that's what I told the detectives," Simpson said from his home on a hill overlooking the Hardins. "But I don't see how that would kill her." 

Authorities are still trying to determine whether Savannah was forced to run by physical coercion or by verbal commands. Deputies were told the girl was forced to run after lying to her grandmother, 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard, about having eaten the candy, sheriff's office spokeswoman Natalie Barton said.

Savannah Hardin died Monday at Children's Hospital in Birmingham, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. The sheriff's release says the autopsy report showed the girl was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level. A state pathologist ruled it a homicide.

The sheriff's office received calls from concerned citizens who had witnessed the running. No other details were released.

Gail Denny and her husband Phil, live just up a dirt road from the home. They've known the family since they moved to the area in northeastern Alabama seven years ago.

The Denny's say they were used to seeing Savannah and other neighborhood children out waiting on the school bus in the morning. Gayle said her grandson had a crush on Savannah.

"My grandson asked her to be his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, and she said 'yes,'" Gail said before dissolving into tears.

The trailer where Savannah lived was surrounded by a wooden fence, playground equipment and toys. Neighbors say they never saw children playing in the yard. Her father, Robert Hardin, was filing for divorce, but neighbors said they saw him there with the kids at times.

They tell The Associated Press that Garrard owned a lot of property along the road and much of her family lived in homes on that property.

"It seems like a very happy extended family around here," Denny said. "There are mothers, grandmothers, kids. It sounds like a punishment that got out of hand."

Denny brought a candle to the Hardin property and lit it beside a stuffed animal surrounded by roses.

Garrard and Jessica Mae Hardin are being held in the Etowah County Detention Center, each on a $500,000 cash bond.

Court records show that Robert Hardin filed for divorce in August of 2010. In his complaint, he asserted his wife was bi-polar and had alcoholic tendencies. He accused her of previously having run off with the couple's own child.

In her response, Jessica denied all of Robert's allegations.

Five months after filing for divorce, the two asked a judge to dismiss their case.

Savannah Hardin was a third-grader at Carlisle Elementary School. Superintendent Alan Cosby said her desk had been turned into a makeshift memorial where her classmates could leave notes and mementos. He said counselors and social workers were made available for students.

"This is obviously a very tragic, devastating, heartbreaking situation," Cosby said. "Nothing like this has ever happened before."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Spokane family discovers their new home destroyed

    Spokane family discovers their new home destroyed

    Saturday, November 18 2017 1:38 AM EST2017-11-18 06:38:51 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A family's dream home turned into a house of horrors after a man breaks in, destroying everything inside.  It was a day the Gunther family had been waiting for, to move into their new home. But when she checked on the place during her lunch break Thursday, Brittanie immediately knew something was wrong.   All of the work her family had done to get their new home ready was gone. "I don't even know what's really 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A family's dream home turned into a house of horrors after a man breaks in, destroying everything inside.  It was a day the Gunther family had been waiting for, to move into their new home. But when she checked on the place during her lunch break Thursday, Brittanie immediately knew something was wrong.   All of the work her family had done to get their new home ready was gone. "I don't even know what's really 

    >>
  • Missing 13-year-old girl reported in Spokane Valley is found safe

    Missing 13-year-old girl reported in Spokane Valley is found safe

    Saturday, November 18 2017 2:04 AM EST2017-11-18 07:04:45 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputies say they're looking for 13-year-old Jordan Ballou, who has been missing since 3pm Friday.  Deputies say she was last seen in the 6300 block of E. 4th Ave in Spokane Valley. 

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputies say they're looking for 13-year-old Jordan Ballou, who has been missing since 3pm Friday.  Deputies say she was last seen in the 6300 block of E. 4th Ave in Spokane Valley. 

    >>
  • AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

    AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:34 AM EST2017-11-18 15:34:00 GMT

    NEW YORK (AP) - Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has died. He was 64. AC/DC announced the death on their official Facebook page and website Saturday. The posts did not say when or where Young died. Young was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. A statement says he died peacefully with his family by his side.

    >>

    NEW YORK (AP) - Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has died. He was 64. AC/DC announced the death on their official Facebook page and website Saturday. The posts did not say when or where Young died. Young was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. A statement says he died peacefully with his family by his side.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/