Body of Missing Girl in Kentucky Is Discovered

Mother, boyfriend charged in death of 4-year-old Serenity Ann McKinney
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2022 11:37 AM CST
Updated Feb 21, 2022 8:12 AM CST
Mother of Missing Kentucky Girl Arrested in Kansas
Serenity Ann McKinney.   (Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

Update: A sad end to the long search for 4-year-old Serenity Ann McKinney in Kentucky—authorities have found her body in a wooded area, reports WAVE. Serenity was last seen alive on Christmas Eve of 2020. Her mother, 21-year-old Catherine McKinney of Shepherdsville, and her mother's boyfriend, 26-year-old Dakota Hill, have been charged with murder and abuse of a corpse. Our original story from Feb. 9 follows:

Earlier this month, the attorney general of Kentucky put out a release asking for the public's help in finding 4-year-old Serenity Ann McKinney, who hasn't been seen for more than a year. As that search continues, a new development in the case: Her mother and her mother's boyfriend were arrested in Kansas over the weekend. "Yeah, it's pretty far from Louisville," Capt. Blake Lisby of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office tells WDRB, adding that Catherine McKinney and Dakota Hill were booked Sunday into the Thomas County Sheriff's Office in Colby and charged with custodial interference.

Lisby says McKinney "refused to answer any of our questions" and has been generally uncooperative in the search for Serenity. The AG release notes that "extended family members" recently contacted authorities due to worries "that Serenity is in danger"; the girl's grandfather tells WDRB he's the one who filed the missing persons report. Relatives say they last saw the 4-year-old in person on Christmas Eve 2020, per People. The girl is said to have talked to her grandfather on the phone right before the following Father's Day, though it wasn't clear where she was calling from.

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A neighbor tells WDRB that McKinney and Hill had told her they were homeless and so had sent Serenity to stay with family. According to a flyer put out by the Shelby County Sheriff's Office on Serenity's disappearance, the little girl has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a possible birthmark on her stomach. Anyone with any information on Serenity should call the sheriff's office at 502-633-4324. Meanwhile, McKinney and Hill are to be extradited back to Kentucky, where they'll be arraigned. No bond has been set. (Read more missing child stories.)

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