Benton County, Mo. prosecutor charges parents of child investigators say was killed to remove a “demon”

Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 8:37 AM CST
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WARSAW, Mo. (KY3) - The parents of a 4-year-old Lincoln, Mo. girl face charges after investigators say their daughter was dunked in an icy pond and beaten to death to remove a “demon.”

Deputies arrested Mary S. Mast, 29, and James A. Mast, 28 on Christmas Eve. Mary Mast faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death and domestic assault. James Mast faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death, endangering the welfare of a child resulting in serious injury. A judge did not set bond for the couple. Deputies placed a second child in the home in protective custody.

Ethan Mast, 35, and Kourtney Aumen, 21, face a second-degree murder and other offenses. They both remain jailed. Despite having the same last names, Mary and James Mast are not related to Ethan Mast.

Deputies responded 1 a.m. on Sunday, December 20 to a rural home near the town of Cole Camp and found the 4-year-old wrapped in a blanket on a bedroom floor. Investigators said the girl was already dead and had “severe purple bruising” over her body, along with ruptured blisters. Sheriff Knox said the girl’s parents also had been beaten along with a 2-year-old child. An infant son of the couple was apparently unharmed.

Ethan Mast told investigators on Saturday, he and Aumen used a leather belt to beat the girl, the statement said. She was then taken to a pond behind the home where she was “dunked” in the water on a day when high temperatures were in the 40s. Ethan Mast said everyone then returned to the victims’ home. It wasn’t clear when the child died. An autopsy will determine the cause of death. Knox said evidence indicated she was beaten to death.

Sheriff Eric Knox released a statement about the case on Facebook.

“I have received many letters, calls and emails of concern regarding this child’s death and the surrounding circumstances to be the actions of a cult. During interviews with investigators and the media, there have been some references to God and demons. Additional interviews have been held with family members, both local and out of state, as well as others who know the parties involved. None of the actions contained in this case are condoned by the church they attended. The investigation done so far indicates that this is an isolated incident and NOT the actions of a cult.

When a crime of this magnitude occurs, it affects everyone in its aftermath from first responders to next of kin, community, church and beyond. This will continue to be an ongoing investigation as we wait for the medical examiner’s report and any further information we may be able to develop in time. Further charges may be sought by Benton County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rod Richardson as all the evidence is considered.”

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