County coroner Dennis Russell said Friday that 9-year-old Katelynn Arnold, of Ragland, was pronounced dead just after 9 p.m. Thursday at St. Vincent’s St. Clair hospital. The cause of death was “ligature strangulation.”
Sheriff Terry Surles told reporters at a Friday afternoon press conference that Arnold’s foster mother discovered her hanging from a tree at around 8 p.m. Thursday. Her half-brother — whose name was not released because of juvenile protection laws — was arrested early Friday morning after being questioned by authorities.
Surles said that a hearing for the juvenile will take place to determine whether he can be certified as an adult.
“He’s in juvenile detention,” Surles said. “The investigation is nowhere near over. We want to be sure in this investigation that we protect the rights of everybody involved.”
The sheriff said that the information pointed toward an intentional homicide.
“It was an intentional situation, according to the information we’ve received,” he said. “That’s why he’s charged with murder.”
He said the situation is “tragic.”
“It’s our second eight-year-old, nine-year-old death in a week,” Surles said. “I think we’ve had our share. We’ve had enough.”
According to Surles, Arnold’s body has been sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville for autopsy. Surles said he did not know when the results of the autopsy would be available.
Contact Will Heath at email@example.com.