CYRIL, Okla. — A missing four-year-old Oklahoma girl was beaten to death Christmas night by her caregiver, then buried, according to court documents released on Tuesday.
Athena Brownfield was first reported missing on Jan. 10 when a postal carrier discovered her five-year-old sister alone outside the home the girls shared with the caregivers, Ivon Adams and Alysia Adams, in Cyril, Okla.
The search for the child was announced as a "recovery operation," the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Monday.
Ivon Adams, 36, was arrested in Arizona on murder and child neglect charges and awaits extradition. Alysia Adams, 31, is jailed in Oklahoma on child neglect charges.
An affidavit says Alysia Adams told investigators that her husband beat the child on midnight Dec. 25, Christmas Day.
Athena "was not moving and her eyes were barely open" Alysia Adams said, according to the affidavit by OSBI Lt. Brenna Alvarez. Ivon Adams "then laid her on the ground and punched her at least three more times in the chest" and the child "never moved after that."
Ivon Adams left the home with Athena at about 1 a.m. Dec. 26 and later returned, saying he buried her body on land the Adams once owned close to the nearby town of Rush Springs, about 15 miles southeast of Cyril, marking the site with "a large broken branch."
Authorities announced Tuesday that remains had been found in the general area they had been searching for Athena. OSBI said they were unable to confirm the remains belonged to Athena until they could be identified.
Ivon Adams has waived extradition in Oklahoma and remains jailed in Maricopa County, Arizona, pending extradition.
"I want to get there and take care of it," Adams told a judge during a hearing Friday in Maricopa County court. "I need to get there and fight this."
Court documents do not list attorneys who could speak on the behalf of either of the Adams.
Brandon Bryant, who said he and his wife were once neighbors of the Adams, said Tuesday that he had little interaction with the couple, but saw nothing unusual from them.
"Didn't see anything out of the normal. We talked to Alysia a few times, Ivon never," Bryant said. "We never went into their house, Alysia came over to our house a few times ... we gave her a car seat."
Bryant, whose children are 5 and 10 years old, said he still considers Cyril, with a population of about 800, a safe place.
"It's a small town, it's probably one of the few places on earth I would consider leaving my doors unlocked at night ... it's still a good place to live," Bryant said.
The OSBI has said the girls and the Adams' are related and the affidavit said that the children's biological mother had left them with the couple 1 1/2 to 2 years ago with the girls calling Alysia "mom" or "Aly" and Ivon "dad" or "Uncle Ivon."
The children's biological mother and father are cooperating with investigators, according to the OSBI.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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