A father has been charged with murdering his 4-year-old daughter with special needs after she was found dead in her room in Brisbane, Australia, under suspicious circumstances.
Mark Dunn, 43, claimed to have discovered his daughter Willow dead on Monday but a police investigation later revealed the toddler had been deceased for days before her father called the police.
Police believe Willow was murdered by her father on May 23 as Dunn did not call police until Monday. And when investigators discovered the child’s body lying in her crib, it was in an alarming state of decomposition.
Willow’s face appeared to have been attacked by rats and there were visible sores all over her body, according to reports by Australian and the Courier-Mail. The sores were so deep, that the bones were reportedly exposed in some areas.
In addition, there was evidence to suggest the little girl had starved before her death.
Dunn is currently behind bars for not only killing Willow but failing to seek medical help after she died. While her official cause of death has not yet been released, 7News reported it is believed to be starvation. Dunn will be imprisoned until his next court date, which is scheduled for July 20.
And as investigators worked on the scene, neighbors, as well as family members, were interviewed, including two women who lived inside the home. They are alleged to be Willow’s stepmother and 20-year-old stepsister, but neither has been charged with a crime as of yet.
Neighbors revealed to reporters with the Australian that they were not even aware a little girl lived in the home.
“They’ve been there for that long and we didn’t know a little girl lived there,” one anonymous neighbor admitted to the news outlet. “I can’t believe it.”
Willow was reported to have special needs and was believed to have most likely, not been able to communicate her abuse.
Four years ago, the little girl was born with Down syndrome in a traumatic delivery that caused her mother to die in childbirth. Willow’s death has shocked the special needs community and prompted Down Syndrome Australia to issue a statement this week.
“The [alleged] neglect or abuse of any child is not acceptable.” wrote Dr. Ellen Skladzien, Down Syndrome Australia CEO. “Children with disabilities, as any other children in the community, should be protected and cared for,”
Additionally, the chief executive officer of Children and Young People with Disability Australia, Mary Sayers, also issued a statement in response to Willow’s “senseless” death:
“A young life full of possibility will not be realized. There is no peace to be drawn from Willow’s death. There is no reasoning or rationale to the senseless death of a child. Willow was let down … regardless of what the criminal proceedings may find. The abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability cannot be tolerated. Every child has a right to feel safe, secure and loved.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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