OGDEN — An Ogden couple has been formally charged with aggravated murder in the death of their 3-year-old daughter, court documents say.
Miller Costello, 25, and Brenda Emile, 22, were each formally charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, on Monday, July 10. Originally, the two were booked into Weber County Jail on child abuse homicide, also a first-degree felony.
According to a probable cause of arrest statement, on Thursday, July 6, police responded to a 911 call about a 3-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing. When police arrived, it was determined the girl, Angelina Costello, was dead.
“Officers on scene immediately recognized the child victim had bruising, contusions, lacerations, burns, open sores and abrasions all over her face, hands, legs, head and neck,” the probable cause statement says.
Emile told officers she found the girl, who is the couple’s biological daughter, dead around 12:20 p.m. Thursday when she called police.
Court documents say the 3-year-old appeared to be “extremely malnourished,” “cold to the touch and stiff with an apparent onset of rigor mortis,” the stage of death where the body’s limbs begin to stiffen.
A Medical Examiner’s Office investigator removed the girl’s clothing and found a large burn on her chest along with small circular burns, bruises and cuts on her back, legs and feet, court documents say.
Officials said some of the girl’s injuries appeared to be recent while others were in various stages of healing.
Investigators searched the couple’s cellphones and found several pictures and videos, ranging from January 2016 to June 2017, showing the girl’s deteriorating health conditions.
The videos allegedly show both Costello and Emile “taunting the child victim with food by presenting it to her and then removing it from her and disciplining her,” court documents say.
Another video allegedly shows Costello using an infant’s feet to kick the girl in the face.
In an interview with investigators, Emile said she had covered the girl in makeup to “conceal some injuries ‘so they didn’t look as bad,’” according to the probable cause statement.
Costello told officials he knew the girl’s health was deteriorating and that she needed medical attention or she would die. He said various times when he returned home from work, he saw new injuries on the girl, who was in Emile’s care during the day, but did not seek medical attention or inform police.
Costello said Emile “told him the child victim had been struck or otherwise injured by siblings in the house or had fallen down,” the court document says.
Emile also told investigators she knew of the girl’s injuries but didn’t attempt to prevent her from falling down or stop the other children from striking her. According to the probable cause statement, she said she didn’t get medical attention because she didn’t “want a police investigation or to have her children taken from her.”
The family has only lived in Ogden for only a short amount of time, a release from Ogden Police said. Court documents say the couple has “self-proclaimed ties to a transient Romanian gypsy community.”
Costello told investigators he buys scrap metal at auctions across the country for a living and made $150,000 last month, and he and Emile also had large amounts of cash and cashiers checks in their possession
Weber County Attorney Chris Allred said, because of this, prosecutors are concerned that if the two are granted bail, they’ll attempt to flee the state or country.
He said Costello and Emile are currently being held in Weber County Jail and were denied bail Tuesday when they appeared in 2nd District Court.
The investigation into the girl’s death is active and ongoing. Anyone with additional information can contact Detective Lewis with the Ogden Police Department at 801-629-8438.