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Charges upgraded to murder for mother of missing child

November 27, 2021 GMT

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Charges have been upgraded to malice murder and felony murder for the woman who reported her 8-year-old daughter missing two days before the child was found dead.

Nicole Amari Hall was reported missing from an Extended Stay Hotel in Gwinnett County last Sunday. The girl’s mother, Brittany Hall, claimed her daughter disappeared from the motel.

Police found the little girl’s body Tuesday in a wooded area in a neighborhood near Stone Mountain State Park.

Brittany Hall’s partner, Celeste Owens, was charged with six counts of first-degree cruelty to children and making false statements. Her charges were upgraded Tuesday to include felony murder, concealing a death and a seventh count of child cruelty. Hall was charged with concealing a death, filing a false police report and multiple counts of child cruelty. Late Monday, she was charged with making false statements, false report of a crime and five counts of first-degree cruelty to children. On Friday, her charges were upgraded to include both felony murder and malice murder, news outlets reported.

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Each woman is being held without bond. It was not immediately known if either woman has an attorney who could speak on their behalf.

Police Chief J.D. McClure said he couldn’t speculate on why they reported the child as missing.

“But our investigation revealed Amari was not, in fact, missing. Very early in the investigation, we began to suspect foul play,” he said.

Police said Hall eventually helped investigators locate the body. The medical examiner is working to determine the official cause of death.

A motive in the case has not been released.

Two other children living in Hall and Owens’ home, a 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, have been placed in state custody.