Saturday marks one year since investigators found the body of 4-year-old Miegellic Young buried in the backyard of a home in northwest Charlotte.
Police believe her mother killed her in 2020.
Pictures show Miegellic’s bright eyes and big smile. But Channel 9′s Erika Jackson uncovered more than 100 pages of court and police documents that paint a different picture.
You can hear the truth of what happened to Miegellic in a recording of when Child Protective Services called 911.
“They’re reporting that there’s some concern that this child may be dead,” CPS said on the call. “It says that first, that no one has seen the child since 2020.”
CMPD investigators believe Miegellic’s mother, Malikah Bennett, killed her in 2020 and tried to cover it up. Police didn’t find her remains until May 2021.
Miegellic’s 13-year-old sister told detectives that Bennett punished Miegellic for soiling her pants. She said the 4-year-old was forced to stand in the laundry room for three days before she fell and hit her head.
The teen told investigators she helped her mom bury Miegellic’s body in the backyard of where they lived with six other children.
Channel 9 also obtained a recording of when Malikah Bennett called 911.
“The police have been trying to get in contact with me,” she said. “So they can question me regarding a missing persons report pertaining to my daughter.”
Bennett has a history of run-ins with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Court documents show Bennett was arrested for child abuse earlier in 2020 for leaving a child alone for more than a day. Court records reveal judges disposed of several cases involving Bennett – where she was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Miegellic’s autopsy also showed signs of malnutrition.
Gayle Smith works with victims of domestic violence through her nonprofit, Dahlia Grove.
“Any time there’s trauma in a family, it affects everybody in that family system, in some form or fashion,” Smith said.
Channel 9 found more than a dozen CMPD reports dating back to 2017 when Bennett was listed as a victim. She told CMPD officers she was assaulted and a victim of vandalism in those domestic-related cases. Several reports show she had a restraining order against the suspect.
Smith believes there can be a correlation between domestic violence and child abuse.
“It does affect their personality. It affects their decision-making. It affects the brain development, affects everything,” she said.
Andrew Oliver with Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center works closely with CMPD and victims of child abuse.
“Domestic violence and child abuse are absolutely related,” Oliver said. “They’re both forms of abuse. They both have elements of power and control.”
Police reports show children were present during some of the domestic disputes.
“Children can get caught up in the middle of domestic violence,” Oliver said. “We know that if domestic violence is occurring in the home, children witness it about half the time that it happens.”
That’s why he says it’s important to spot signs of domestic abuse and child maltreatment. Oliver says you can act as eyes and ears to protect the most vulnerable victims.
“Child abuse happens in every single neighborhood in every part of the town every single day,” Oliver said.
In uptown Charlotte, trained professionals with child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault support groups provide help at what’s called the Survivor Resource Center, which opened in 2021.
A larger-scale center is in the works, which will provide walk-in services for survivors under one roof.
If you or someone you know needs help, please don’t wait to get help -- call the Safe Alliance Hotline at 980-771-HOPE.
(WATCH BELOW: The Erica Parsons Story: A Channel 9 special report - Part 6)