CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man was charged Tuesday in the death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.
Neighbors say they noticed a lot of police and fire trucks outside their apartment building on Christmas Eve. Many were unsure about what happened, until they heard about the arrest.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said they charged 26-year-old Demarcus Heath with killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter Tuesday after collecting evidence since Christmas Eve.
CMPD said officers responded to the 7800 block of Timber Commons Lane around 9:29 p.m. Saturday for an unresponsive child.
Medic arrived and took the girl, later identified as 4-year-old Mariya Owens, to Novant Health Matthews Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
"It's terrible, absolutely terrible," said Jennifer Moersch, who lives upstairs and said the children in the apartment would play with her dog. WBTV has learned that Mariya had a twin sister.
"Arresting someone and taking him out is not enough. I think there should be a full investigation," said Moersch.
It's standard policy for the Department of Social Services to get involved after the death of child. It's unclear if DSS may have had a prior history with Mariya's family.
"As a result of the investigation, and in consultation with the Medical Examiner's Office, detectives determined that the victim was physically assaulted, which led to her death," CMPD said.
Heath was voluntarily interviewed by homicide detectives and arrested Tuesday. He was taken to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.
A woman named Antrinette Pharr said she is Owens' aunt and even had custody of the child and her siblings for a brief period. She said she's had trouble sleeping since Owens' death.
"I'm like devastated. I think I've cried so much I don't even cry anymore," said Pharr.
She said the pain is worse because she saw trouble coming. She claims she told child protective services she was worried about the safety of the kids while they were in the care of their mother.
"I wish that child protective service would start investigating and listening out to us more than what they do," said Pharr.
DSS was closed when WBTV called their offices Tuesday night.
Pharr said that she thinks others should be charged in the death of Owens. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. She had harsh words for the man accused of killing Owens.
"He has his day because (there are) people that do not play with you harming kids, so I hope he can beat a grown man like that," said Pharr.
Anyone with additional information about the case is asked to call detectives at 704-432-TIPS.