Father, girlfriend indicted in killing of 2-year-old Hocking County girl

Local News

HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) – Two people, one of whom is facing the death penalty, have been indicted for murder in the January death of a 2-year-old girl in Hocking County.

Hocking County Prosecuting Attorney Ryan R. Black and Hocking County Sheriff Lanny E. North announced Monday that Austin L. Starkey, 25, of Logan, and Destiny D. Neel, 27, also of Logan, have been indicted by a grand jury in the death of Arianna D. Starkey.

Starkey is the father of Arianna, and Neel is his live-in girlfriend.

According to a statement announcing the indictment, Neel faces the death penalty due to a specification in one of the charges for a victim under the age of 13.

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call placed by Neel on Jan. 8 stating that a two-year-old was not breathing.

Investigators said the story told about the child’s injuries were not true and that Starkey and Neel lied in order to hide the fact the injuries were due to abuse, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Starkey has been indicted on the following charges:

  • Murder, an unclassified felony
  • Felonious assault, a second-degree felony
  • Permitting child abuse, a first-degree felony
  • Second- and third-degree endangering children charges
  • Tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony

Neel has been indicted on the following charges:

  • Aggravated murder, an unclassified felony, with the specification that the victim was under 13-years-old, which can lead to a death penalty sentence
  • Two charges of murder, an unclassified felony
  • Felonious assault, a second-degree felony
  • Second- and third-degree endangering children charges

“These are tragic circumstances,” Black said in a statement. “Nothing is more unconscionable than the murder of a child, made especially horrific by it being perpetrated by the victim’s caregivers. The brutality involved makes this case particularly difficult to stomach.”

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