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Police: Physical abuse linked to murder

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Details of physical abuse emerged Friday morning in connection to 10-year-old Skylea Carmack’s death, after she was reported missing on Aug. 31.

Children living in the home told investigators that Amanda Carmack was a “strict disciplinarian, physically abusing them,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday morning.

Amanda, who is Skylea’s stepmother, was arrested Wednesday and officially charged Friday with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death and strangulation, according to court records.

The children reportedly said Amanda would use a “pink belt to whip them” and make the children stand with their face against the wall with their hands in the air for several hours.

One of the siblings said Skylea was confined to her room for the last week and a half in an interview at the First Child Advocacy Center in Marion Sunday, the affidavit states.

Amanda denied hitting or spanking her children, but police said she later admitted to slapping Skylea on Saturday for taking a charm bracelet.

Police say she showed numerous signs of deception in the interview on Sunday, and when asked if she killed Skylea, Amanda “just stared at (the detective).”

After failing a polygraph test Tuesday, she allegedly confessed to killing Skylea around 12:10 a.m. Wednesday. In the affidavit, police wrote that she “started choking (Skylea) with her hands then she thinks she tied something around her neck."

The autopsy revealed Skylea had “a pair of multi-colored cloth pants, tied in a tight knot” around her neck.

Amanda reportedly would not say why she killed Skylea “other than she was very angry,” police said.

Once dead, Amanda placed Skylea in a trash bag and left her in the white shed behind the home on the 200 Block of E South D Street in Gas City, the affidavit states.

Police say they found the pillow, blanket and backpack Amanda described Skylea taking from the house when she called Gas City Police officers Saturday around 9:10 a.m. to report Skylea missing. During the autopsy, Skylea was reportedly wearing the shoes, pants and shirt Amanda described to police.

Skylea’s father Kevin Carmack told police he was driving his truck home from a job in Maryland when he heard of Skylea’s disappearance Saturday around 9 p.m. The last time he saw Skylea was during a video call with her around 3:30 p.m. Saturday for about 30 minutes, the affidavit states.

Police confirmed the information Kevin provided using GPS location information and other phone data, adding that he was “very cooperative and forthcoming” in interviews.

One of the children said she last saw Skylea cleaning her room before leaving for a bike ride between approximately 4-5 p.m. Saturday.

She told Amanda that Skylea was missing around 6 p.m., but Amanda reportedly “just shrugged her off and continued to make dinner,” according to the child’s account recorded in the affidavit.

The child later found Amanda allegedly crying in Skylea’s room after dinner, reportedly saying, “I should have listened to you, (Skylea) has run away again.”

Approximately two hours passed between when the child found Amanda crying and when the child heard Amanda call police, according to the affidavit.

Police say there was a five and one-half hour gap in phone activity, according to data obtained from Amanda’s phone, between 3:30 p.m. and nearly 9 p.m. Saturday.