After a widespread manhunt that ended in Georgia, authorities on Tuesday arrested the mother and her boyfriend in the death of a 4-year-old Sumpter Township girl who was found severely burned New Year’s Day.
The U.S. Marshals Service captured Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and Brad Edward Fields, 28, while the pair drove near Lake Park, Georgia, at about 3:50 p.m., township police said in a statement. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office assisted, according to the release.
Their capture followed leads developed from tips that poured in across the country, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Watson, a leader with the group’s Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team-West. It resolves a high-profile case that sparked national outrage.
“Whenever there’s a child involved, it hits home a lot harder for a lot of us,” Watson said. “We worked tirelessly on this and from picking up the case less than 48 hours (later), we got it peacefully resolved.”
It was not known when the couple would be extradited to Michigan to face charges that include murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture.
“We have no additional information at this time and will make more known as we get it,” said Sumpter Township police Chief Eric Luke.
Fields also has been charged as an habitual offender, township police said.
An extradition hearing has not been scheduled, and the pair remained jailed in Georgia late Tuesday, Watson said.
Officials spent days seeking Diaz and Fields, who were wanted on arrest warrants authorized by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
The 4-year-old girl, whom relatives identified as Diaz’s daughter, Gabrielle Renea Barrett, had been found early Jan. 1 at a residence on Greenmeadow Drive in the Rawsonville Woods mobile home community near Willow Road.
When officers arrived, they found relatives performing CPR, police said. The girl was rushed to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor and pronounced dead.
Last week, the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide, citing evidence of multiple traumatic injuries and battered child syndrome, investigators said.
Meanwhile, Barrett’s relatives, who did not immediately respond to interview requests Tuesday, prepared for a funeral.
In recent days, they have posted photos on their Facebook pages showing the petite brown-haired girl grinning while cradling a jack-o-lantern or holding a baby doll swathed in blue.
Born July 3, 2013, Gabrielle was “daddy’s angel,” her father, Kyle Barrett, wrote on his page. “I love you baby.”
Family and friends recently gathered for a candlelight vigil. They have also launched a GoFundMe page seeking $8,000 in donations for a memorial service.
“Please help us put our little girl to rest,” her grandfather, Jerry Barrett, wrote on the website.
Supporters had contributed nearly $2,000 by Tuesday evening.