A couple in Tennessee have been charged with the murder of a five-year-old girl who was allegedly forced to drink over two litres of grape soda and water as a punishment for drinking her step-mother’s soda.
Alexa Linboom was taken to hospital on 1 January, 2012, by her father Randall-Lee Vaughn, 41, and step-mother Mary-Lee Vaughn, 58, because she had turned blue and was unresponsive, according to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office.
Doctors at the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital discovered she had sustained severe brain damage. Alexa died two days later.
Her father and step-mother have now been charged with first degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse after a two-year investigation into her death revealed she had died from acute fluid/water intoxication.
An autopsy revealed Alexa had suffered severe brain damage as a result of a massive intake of fluid, which saw her sodium levels drop excessively. This in turn allowed excess water to enter her brain cells and cause swelling.
District attorney Berkeley Bell told The Times News: “Our position is it was a matter of several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralysed state and became unconscious.
”Allegedly the child, as a form of punishment, was forced to drink grape drinks, as well as a great deal of water, to the point that her body became water intoxicated.
“That led to her brain swelling and all of her systems shutting down, and to her eventual brain death.
”The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape drink. I don’t know exactly how much liquid she drank, but there was 4.5 12 ounce drinks plus water in-between.“
Five other children who were living at the property under their care have since been placed into foster care.