Mother charged with murder after child remains found in Smyrna

The mother of a 3-year-old whose remains were found in a Smyrna, Delaware softball field has been charged with murder in the case, authorities announced Tuesday.

Video Transcript

- In September of 2019, the Smyrna police department made a stunning and quite disturbing discovery. A very young child's remains burned were found at a softball field not far from where we are today. In all my years as a prosecutor and in all my years as an attorney, this has been one of the most heartbreaking investigations I have ever experienced. And I am sure that is true for all of law enforcement who is with me today.

Here was a three-year-old victim stolen from the world. These are the crimes that keep us up at night as law enforcement, as parents, and as neighbors. It was salt in the wound that this happened in such a tight-knit community. That is Smyrna Delaware. Ask anyone who lives here, even as it grows, Smyrna is a very small town at heart, and people all know each other.

People here are invested in one another because everyone is connected. They share the good days, and they share the bad. And September 13th, 2019 was one of the darkest days this town has ever seen. From the beginning of this case, there was a tremendous challenge in terms of resources and in terms of morale because any time a young child is murdered, it is tragic. And it hits at the heart of every one of the people in front of you today.

But everyone despite their own feelings, their own emotions, rose to the occasion. The Smyrna police department was diligent in their efforts. The FBI stepped in and used their expansive resources to work every angle because this young girl's remains needed to be identified. They coordinated with a host of outside experts and police agencies throughout two states. And just over a year after Emma Cole's remains were found, they arrested two suspects, Kristie and Brandon Haas, the two people responsible for Emma's welfare and safety.

This case was ultimately made because one of the most dogged investigations our state has ever seen, in my memory, took place. Because of that investigation, we were able to indict both defendants for a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors, including child abuse. We said at the time of the original indictment that the investigation was ongoing, and it was. And that brings us to today. Yesterday Kristie Haas' charges were upgraded to murder, murder by abuse and neglect.

Specifically, she is charged with two additional counts, child murder by abuse or neglect in the first degree, each of which carries a potential life sentence and a minimum mandatory of 15 years. Today we are one giant step closer to justice for Emma. We owe each breakthrough in this case to so many investigators, to the prosecutors and our office, to the FBI, to the Smyrna police department, and everyone in front of you today. From the bottom of my heart, each and every one of you has my thanks.

I see also that the mayor is here as well, the mayor of Smyrna Delaware to join us today as well. We will not let you down in the pursuit of justice. This case is a top-priority in our office, needless to say. But let me as a final word speak to you not as the attorney general for the state of Delaware, but as a mother and a grandmother of young babies.

We all love our children. We all hope for the best for them in life. We nurture them. We give them affection. We tell them that they're smart. We tell them that they're special, and we tell them that they're going to be successful, and they're going to thrive in this world.

I think today we need to hold our children and our grandchildren extra tight because there are those who never had a chance. And Emma never had a chance given the abuse that she endured over a very long period of time. This young child we have to remember in our hearts. And so, when you go home tonight, just hug your kids, and hug your grandkids if you're as old as me because they need to be loved at each and every moment that we cherish them. Thank you so very.