When Shaylyn Ammerman was taken from her crib early Wednesday, she was still alive and dressed.
Her lifeless, bare body would be found almost two days later, laid neatly next to a tree by the banks of the White River, northeast of Gosport, Indiana.
The course of events between Shaylyn’s disappearance and death were finally made clear Monday when Kyle Parker, 22, was charged with raping, strangling and murdering the toddler after kidnapping her from her home.
Parker also faces charges for child molesting, aggravated battery, strangulation, obstruction of justice and failure to report a dead body.
On Monday, Shaylyn’s grandmother, Tamara Morgan, said she was “just disgusted.”
In an interview with investigators Sunday, Parker admitted to his stepfather, Mike Patton, he drove Shaylyn toward Gosport, Indiana, in a maroon Pontiac Grand Am on Wednesday morning. Along the way, Parker said he told investigators, he pulled over and raped Shaylyn in the front seat of his vehicle while she was still alive, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The doctor who conducted Shaylyn’s autopsy Friday, Dr. Donna Stewart, said this was the “worst case of sexual trauma” she has seen in her career, according to the affidavit.
Parker admitted to murdering Shaylyn by smothering her with a cloth he had in his vehicle. He then drove her body to the place where she was later found.
Patton revealed Parker's confessions to investigators Sunday.
He used bleach to clean off her body in an attempt to destroy his DNA, according to the report. Investigators also found a burn pile next to the body, which they believed contained her clothing: a white onesie decorated with owls.
Parker appeared in the charging hearing via a video conference Monday. With his hands crossed on a table in front of him, the man sat emotionless as Owen County Circuit Court Judge Lori Thatcher Quillen read him his charges and possible jail time — a maximum of more than 200 years.
Parker pleaded not guilty to his charges and asked for a public defender. Quillen appointed Jacob Fish to represent him. Parker’s preliminary trial date is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Parker is being held in the Owen County Jail and is not eligible for bail.
The night Shaylyn went missing, Parker, a friend of Shaylyn’s uncle, Adam Ammerman, was at the house on the 400 block of West Jefferson Street in Spencer where Shaylyn spent every other week with her father, Justin Ammerman, and grandmother, Tamara Morgan.
Adam Ammerman told detectives he had invited Parker to the house to watch a movie and drink. He and Parker purchased a fifth of vodka and a fifth of whiskey from a local liquor store.
Parker told authorities he drank about a quarter-pint of whiskey that night. Adam Ammerman told police that between 3 and 4 a.m. he awoke to the sound of the front door shutting. He noticed Parker was not in the room, so he opened his window and saw Parker leaving the house.
Adam Ammerman said he saw Parker walking away from the house carrying something — he said he thought he saw a foot dangling from Parker’s side, but he wasn’t certain, so he went back to bed.
When Shaylyn’s father, Justin Ammerman, woke up at about 8:30 a.m. the next morning, he saw Shaylyn’s crib was empty. The family called 911, and the extensive search for Shaylyn — involving the FBI, Indiana State Police and numerous other agencies — began.
The autopsy revealed numerous injuries sustained in a sexual assault against Shaylyn, according to the police report. The injuries also indicated that Shaylyn was forcefully slammed down on a hard surface, and smothered in the nose and mouth to keep her screams from being heard.
Injuries to her throat were consistent with strangulation, according to the police report.
Parker’s friends told authorities he drank a lot and would often get naked while intoxicated.
They said Parker liked pornographic videos with sadistic and masochistic themes, and was said to be attracted to younger girls in the 12- to 14-year-old range.
Adam Ammerman told authorities Tamara Morgan, Shaylyn’s grandmother, walked into the house on an earlier day and saw Parker sitting in a rocking chair, intoxicated and holding Shaylyn in his lap.
Parker did not initially admit to any involvement in Shaylyn’s disappearance. He agreed to show police on a map where Shaylyn’s body was located, but blamed Adam Ammerman for her death.
As evidence continued to build against him, Parker told his stepfather he acted alone in Shaylyn’s death. Polygraph tests were administered to Adam Ammerman and Justin Ammerman to confirm they were truthful in saying they were not involved in the death, according to the affidavit.
In Monday’s court hearing, Parker told the judge he has not been employed since June 2015, when he worked at a Terre Haute nursing and rehab center. He lives in Spencer in a home owned by his half sister’s parents.
Parker said he has had no income since his last job, and currently has no bank accounts containing any money.
His pretrial conference is scheduled for May 26.
This story has been updated to clarify the nature of the investigation.
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