Gabrielle Barrett: Couple arrested after allegedly burning and abusing four-year-old girl who died on New Year's Day

The couple's other child has been removed from their custody after Gabrielle's death

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 11 January 2018 14:45 GMT
(Facebook/Leah Ouellette-Barrett)

A Michigan couple has been caught and arrested for allegedly burning and abusing a four-year-old child, resulting in what medical examiners called the "worst child death case”.

Gabrielle Barrett “had burns all over her body and bruising to her entire body" according to a petition,which the Detroit Free Press has obtained, filed to remove another child from the couple's custody.

The girl's mother Candice Diaz and Brad Fields, Ms Diaz's boyfriend, have been charged with felony murder, second degree murder, first degree child abuse, and torture.

Police had gone to the home after an emergency call on 1 January. The child was unresponsive and in cardiac arrest, according to the petition filed by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In a statement, police said: "Upon arrival, CPR was being administered by family members and officers found the child suffering from severe burns about her extremities."

The child died soon after arriving at an area hospital.

Mr Fields is not Gabrielle's father but the couple have custody of her half sister, a one-year-old baby. A court granted the state agency's request and the couple have been prohibited from seeing the child.

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The couple were previously on the run from police after Gabrielle's death was ruled as a homicide, but were apprehended by the US Marshal Service while driving in Georgia.

The petition also said Ms Diaz and Mr Fields each “have severe mental illnesses" and both admit they are not under proper medical treatment. Ms Diaz was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety and Mr Fields said he had been told he had schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is unclear whether child protective services had been involved with this family prior to Gabrielle's death, but the petition stated the medical examiner found a history of traumatic injuries to Gabrielle's body.

The state agency told the newspaper it does not comment on such cases involving children and declined to provide further details, but police records indicated a chaotic home.

In May 2016, Mr Diaz accused Mr Fields of punching her several times. He had allegedly shot the family dog and then shot himself in the leg.

In addition to finding crack pipes and several guns and knives, the police report said "the smell in the house was quite foul due to old garbage, decaying food, uncleaned dishes, dog urine on the living room floor, dog feces in the children's room, a rabbit with unchanged wood shavings and general uncleanliness.There were flies of all sorts in the air throughout the house."

Ms Diaz dropped the charges three days later and was put on probation for two years when she said she owned the weapons. Mr Fields had also been in trouble with the law prior to Gabrielle's death for carrying a concealed weapon.

Kyle Barrett, Gabrielle's biological father, has not been charged in relation to his daughter's death. He said the last time he saw the girl was in September 2017 when he turned himself into police on an unrelated warrant.

Mr Barrett was released from jail two days after the child died.

Jerry Barrett, Mr Barrett's father, said he was unaware of where his granddaughter lived or the condition of the home. "If I'd have known, I would have been there in a heartbeat," he lamented to the Detroit Free Press.

"She’s just a little angel. Everybody's been broken up about it," he said. It is not known whether the couple have yet had a chance to enter a plea.

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