A man and woman in Benton County, Missouri are accused of terrorizing a neighboring family, and murdering a 4-year-old girl. Ethan Joel Mast, 35, and Kourtney Taylor Aumen, 21, were booked into the local jail on Monday, records show.
Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox summed up the case like this when Law&Crime reached out for details in a phone interview on Tuesday: The defendants went across the street to discipline a neighboring family. (“Disciplining” is a word used in the criminal complaint, in reference to discussing the alleged motives.)
Knox described three victims.
- The 4-year-old girl, who had died.
- a 2-year-old boy, who was beaten “beyond belief.”
- and the mother, who was also beaten.
According to the redacted criminal complaint provided to Law&Crime, a deputy was dispatched to a home on Sunday regarding what he described as a “possible domestic disturbance.” An individual, whose name was redacted, led him upstairs to show him a 4-year-old girl. The child was on the floor next to bunk beds while wrapped in a pink blanket, authorities said. She had died, and her body displayed signs including open wounds that seemed to be from ruptured blisters, and bruising from apparent belt marks.
According to authorities, he alleged that his neighbors across the road, Mast and Aumen, caused injuries to the family. The defendants forced him and his wife to comply with the beatings, he allegedly said.
According to documents, the responding deputy questioned the father on how “he could let people do this to his family.” The father allegedly said that they were told that someone (a person whose name was redacted) had a “Demon” inside her, and if this was not addressed, then her kids would become like her. He also allegedly said that Mast and Aumen made threats against him and a person (whose name was redacted).
Knox told Law&Crime that he could not speak on whether the girl’s parents faced any legal exposure. He said that the investigation was ongoing.
The redacted criminal complaint describes an alleged sexual assault committed by Mast and Aumen. Knox said he could not speak on the details of the sexual assault, but he did say it “isn’t accurate” that it was committed against the 4-year-old victim.
In the account from investigators, Mast admitted to acts, including the aforementioned sexual assault. He also allegedly confessed to acts such as beating the 2-year-old boy with a wooden spoon. In this story, he admitted to physically abusing the 4-year-old girl, and making her and a person whose name was redacted go into a nearby pond.
Aumen lived with Mast and his wife, Knox said. A Facebook post from the sheriff’s office identified the parents, who have the same last name as the male defendant. According to Knox, investigators were told they were not related.
The defendants both face a count of murder in the second degree, a count of sexual abuse in the first degree, and three counts of assault in the first degree. They are being held without bond at the Benton County Jail. Online records show Mast and Aumen each had an initial appearance in court on Tuesday. They pleaded not guilty, and were referred to a public defender. The office did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.
[Mugshots via Benton County]
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