After Son's Murder, Mom Helped Killer Hide the Body

Breanna Arnold kept body in dresser before it was burned: police
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2017 8:34 AM CST
After Son's Murder, Mom Helped Killer Hide the Body
Breanna Arnold   (Wells County Sheriff's Department)

The mother of a 3-year-old boy whose burned body was found in a wooded area in Indiana has been sentenced to 20 years in prison—though not in relation to his death. Breanna Arnold, 22, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison with 2.5 years suspended on Tuesday after pleading guilty to preparing meth in a home occupied by children, prosecutors tell People. Other charges against her—including neglect, abuse of a corpse, and altering the scene of a death—were dropped as part of a plea deal, reports WANE. The charges stemmed from January 2015, when authorities found the burned body of Arnold's son, Owen, in the woods after a family member told police that the boy was missing, reports the Journal Gazette. Police determined he died of blunt force trauma.

Police say Arnold wasn't involved in her son's death. Instead, they say her live-in boyfriend, Zachary Barnes—now serving 50 years in prison for Owen's murder—fatally struck the boy inside their mobile home near Bluffton. However, authorities believe Arnold helped Barnes wrap his body in plastic and hid it in a dresser before Barnes and Zachary Barker—a friend who also lived at the home and was 16 at the time of the crime—attempted to dismember the body and eventually set it on fire in the woods. Barker pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and dealing meth in 2015 and was sentenced to 14.5 years in prison. In a statement, Arnold later said she and her other son, then 6, were afraid for their lives. (A boy allegedly died after years locked in closets.)

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