Missing 11-month-old Indiana girl found dead, investigators say

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PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WXIN) — An 11-month-old Indiana girl who was reported missing over the weekend was found dead Wednesday, officials said.

Mercedes Lain had been placed in the care of family friend Justin Miller and was last seen around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday in Mishawaka, Indiana, according to the FBI. She was wearing a white onesie with pink trim.

The girl’s father, Kenny Lain, reported her missing on Sunday. Police located Miller on Monday morning in Starke County, but Mercedes was not with him.

On Wednesday afternoon, after several interviews, Miller led officers to a wooded area in Starke County where they found the girl’s body. Investigators believe she died Saturday, according to Marshall County Prosecutor E. Nelson Chipman.

Miller will be charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, authorities said. Kenny Lain and Tiffany Coburn, the girl’s parents, face neglect of a dependent charges.

An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death. Additional charges could be filed based on the autopsy results.

Investigators said there was no indication that the parents knew the girl’s fate when they reported her missing Sunday. They had given the girl to Miller to “take a break,” according to authorities.

Court documents described Miller as a “family relative” and that Mercedes was placed in his care Friday. Miller was originally set to return her on Saturday, but it was later decided that he would take her back on Sunday. Lain and Coburn tried numerous times to contact Miller, and when they finally did, he said he’d dropped the girl off with a neighbor.

Drug use may have been involved, investigators said during a Thursday morning news conference.

Police said Miller told them that Kenny Lain contacted him on Aug. 12 to discuss buying synthetic marijuana. The conversation then turned to difficulties the parents were having with the little girl. Miller said he could watch her for a few days to give them a break.

Police said Miller’s recollection of the events changed several times, including a claim that he’d dropped the girl off at a motel with a family acquaintance on Sunday. He also admitted to “using synthetic marijuana on numerous occasions” when he was with Mercedes.

Miller eventually told police he was at a residence in Mishawaka “on or about August 14” and woke up to find Mercedes had died. He then told investigators he had disposed of her body at a Starke County property. He eventually led officers to the scene.

Police said they initially had trouble contacting the parents about their missing daughter, but during an interview with Coburn later, she admitted to using methamphetamine on “numerous occasions,” according to court documents. When police located the girl’s father, he was “under the influence of an unknown substance,” according to court documents.

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