UPDATE: Woman arrested for death of two-year-old now charged with murder

The investigation into the tragic death of a Pekin girl is ongoing. The child, two-year-old Misty Ann Lynn McDowell, died on Tuesday morning after being rushed to Ascension St. Vincent Salem Hospital by local emergency personnel.  

On Tuesday afternoon, an autopsy was conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. James Jacobi. The official cause of death was listed as Homicide - multiple blunt force injuries.    

On Wednesday, ISP detective Travis Baker met again with Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin concerning the case. As a result of the investigation and findings in the case, the Washington County Prosecutor has added the following charges in the arrest of Sarah Bierly: 

1.  Murder - Felony

2.  Aggravated Battery resulting in Death - Level 1 Felony 

Sarah Bierly is also charged with the original crime of Neglect of a Dependent causing Death, a Level 1 Felony.

In regard to the case, Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin provided the following statement: “This case will require our best. Thankfully, our office has the experience, training, and determination necessary to meet this moment. We will see that justice is served in this case.”

The original news release is listed below.

Pekin - September 14, 2021: Detectives from the Indiana State Police (ISP) in Sellersburg arrested a 30-year-old Pekin woman for the death of a 2-year-old girl in her care.

Around Midnight Tuesday morning, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department responded to a Poplar Street address in Pekin after receiving a 911 call reporting an unresponsive child. Washington County EMS immediately transported the child to Ascension St. Vincent Salem Hospital after deputies and emergency medical personnel arrived. 

Tragically, the child was pronounced deceased by the Washington County Coroner after arriving at the hospital.  

Sheriff Brent Miller requested ISP assistance, and Detective Travis Baker and Crime Scene Investigator Phil D’Angelo responded to the Pekin address scene. As part of the investigation, officers obtained a search warrant for the residence as Detective Travis Baker spoke with 30-year-old Sarah Maire Bierly, the live-in-girlfriend of the child’s father, as well as other family members at the scene.  

The investigation continued at the Washington County Jail, where Detective Baker later arrested Sarah Bierly for Neglect of a Dependent Causing Death, a Level 1 Felony.   

The Indian State Police were assisted by officers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Pekin Town Marshall, Washington County EMS, Pierce-Polk Township first-responders, the Washington County Coroner’s Office, and the Washington County Prosecutor.

This case is still under investigation and will be updated as information becomes available.     

“All subjects are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law”.


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