SEDALIA, Mo. (TCD) --
Two Missouri residents were arrested after their neighbors' 4-year-old daughter was submerged in a pond and later died, and the girl's mother and 2-year-old brother were severely beaten, the Benton County Sheriff's Office announced Sunday.
Benton County Sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a dead child in the city of Cole Camp about 1 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 20.
A 4-year-old girl was found deceased at the location. A 2-year-old child and the 28-year-old mother of both children were found severely beaten at the same residence.
James Mast, 28, told deputies his 4-year-old daughter had been beaten, submerged in a pond and left to freeze on the bank of the pond before she was taken inside the residence.
Mary Mast, 28, was hospitalized at Bothwell Regional Hospital with her 2-year-old son. Their conditions were not immediately reported.
Mast and Aumen were both charged with second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree assault, and first-degree sexual abuse with physical harm. They were held without bond.
The relationship of the suspects to the victims was not immediately reported.
The investigation was ongoing and further arrests were possible, according to the Benton County Sheriff's Office.
KYTV-TV reports Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox said the girl was beaten from head to toe. Investigators said the arrested couple did it to beat the "demon or evil" out of the mother and the child.
KOLR-TV reports a sheriff's investigator at the scene said the bruising on the 4-year-old girl appeared to be belt marks.
The victims' father told investigators the beatings had been ongoing for about two weeks, and said he was beaten with a wooden spoon two days earlier. The father said that Mast and Aumen threatened him and said if he did not comply, someone would get shot, KOLR reports.
KRCG-TV reports the father, James Mast, was told by Aumen not to provide aid or comfort to his family or "Satan would come." James Mast said the beatings over the two weeks had included forcing the girl's parents to perform sexual acts on her with a foreign object.