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45lbs: Elk River father, stepmother charged w/ murder of 8 year old girl

Brett and Sarah Hallow Elk River parents.
Brett and Sarah Hallow Elk River parents.
Brett and Sarah Hallow Elk River parents.
Brett and Sarah Hallow Elk River parents pictured with 8 year old girl, Autumn Hallow.

Brett and Sarah Hallow Elk River, Minnesota biological father & stepmother charged with homicide death of Autumn Hallow. Victim of ongoing child abuse. 

A Minnesota father and stepmother of an 8 year old girl who was found dead in an Elk River apartment last week, have been charged with the the child’s murder.

Autumn Lee Hallow had been withering prior to her death, weighing no more than 45 pounds after being denied food & zipped up in a sleeping bag as a form of punishment. 

Come Monday, Brett and Sarah Hallow, ages 30 and 28, respectively, were charged  in Sherburne County District Court with one count of 2nd-degree murder and one count of first-degree manslaughter. 

Autumn Hallow was found unresponsive and not breathing at The Depot at Elk River Station apartment complex at 10653-172nd Ave. NW. just around 3:45 p.m. Thursday, according to a charging document. 

Sarah told police that she found Autumn unresponsive, face down in ‘inches of water’ in the tub, approximately 40 minutes after Autumn went to take a shower.

Child’s body was found rigid & blue

She then stated that Brett brought Autumn to a bedroom, though when asked about the incident by investigators, Brett stated that he awoke to Sarah screaming but he didn’t remember if he found Sarah next to Autumn in the bathroom or the bedroom. 

Attending police found Sarah Hallow in a bedroom giving the girl chest compressions despite the child’s body being rigid and her fingers blue.

‘Based on the condition of [Autumn’s] body, law enforcement believed [she] had been deceased for some time,’ the charges read according to the Star Tribune.

Officers also noted Autumn appearing ‘extremely frail and thin,’ and that her skin was dry and hair only slightly wet. 

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office described Autumn as being ‘markedly cachectic,’ based on her scant fatty tissue, atrophied muscle and significant hair loss.

Sarah estimated that Autumn weighed 45 pounds, while Sarah and Brett claimed that Autumn had ‘always been thin,’ the complaint says. 

Autumn’s biological mother, Kelsey Kruse, had not been allowed to see Autumn since January, with the Hallows claiming they kept people from seeing their children due to COVID-19 and ‘other reasons.’ Her biological mother said Autumn had no known pre-existing medical conditions and ‘appeared of average weight and development when she last saw her,’ the complaint states. 

Autumn Hallow Elk River
Pictured, Autumn Hallow Elk River 8 year old girl.

‘You have given me and my family a permanent scar’

There were also three other children living in the apartment with the Hallows, and two of them – a 6-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl – told child protection services that Brett and Sarah would use a sweatshirts and a belt to tie Autumn’s hands and then zip her in a red sleeping bag, where she was forced to sleep ‘when she was bad,’ the boy said, noting that being ‘bad’ included when Autumn would ‘try to get food.’

The boy also stated that he heard Autumn screaming in the bathroom the morning of her death and that he heard a loud ‘bang’ when both Brett and Sarah were in the bathroom with Autumn. 

A medical examiner ruled Autumn’s death a homicide, with the cause of death documented as ‘asphyxial injuries and blunt force trauma.’

Posted Kruse on Facebook following the father & stepmother’s arrests: ‘You have given me and my family a permanent scar. You took something we will never get back. … I hope your other children know what you did, and I hope they grow up knowing that their sister saved them.’

Also posting, ‘Your father kept you from me for several months, and he then took your life. I hope you know how much I tried to get you. … All of your siblings were lucky to have a sister like you.’

To date it remained unclear why Autumn was targeted.