Parents of missing Smyrna child charged with child’s death

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New allegations and an indictment was announced Monday in the then missing Smyrna child, Emma Grace Cole, whos remains were found at a Smyrna softball field more than a year ago.

WILMINGTON (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: After a year of investigating the missing child case in Smyrna, the Delaware Department of Justice have charged the parents of Emma Grace Cole, with multiple felonies over the abuse and eventual death of their child who’s remains were found at a Smyrna softball field more than a year ago.

Brandon Haas, 39, and Kristie Haas, 28, were indicted Monday afternoon on charges including First Degree Child Abuse and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, with the possibility of additional charges.

“The road ahead is still long, but this indictment is a major step toward justice for Emma,” said Attorney General Jennings. “No crime is more heinous, more offensive to all we hold dear, than the abuse of a child; and in a community as tight-knit as Smyrna, I know how deeply shocking and disturbing this case has been.  Nothing we can do will bring Emma back, but we owe it to her, to her community, and to every child in this state to hold the defendants accountable for their actions. Thanks to the tireless work of law enforcement, our state and federal partners, and the dedicated staff of the Department of Justice, we are one step closer.”

WHAT IS AN INDICTMENT? An indictment is a formal accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until convicted at a trial, at which the State will bear the burden of proof.

If convicted on all charges, Brandon Haas could face a prison sentence of 45 years. Kristie Haas – who is further charged with Assault 2nd Degree, Abusing a Corpse and Reckless Burning – faces a maximum sentence of 55 years.

According to earlier reports, on September 13, 2019, officers of the Smyrna Police Department responded to a report of a child’s remains being discovered at the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball fields. 

The discovery sparked a multijurisdictional investigation into the child’s identity and the circumstances surrounding her death, and a year later, the remains were identified as then missing child Emma Grace Cole. Emma was three years old at the time of her death. 

At the time of her death, Emma resided with her mother, Kristie Haas, her stepfather, Brandon Haas, and her siblings in Smyrna, Delaware. The indictment alleges that Emma was the victim of child abuse before her death.

The Department of Justice says, “Both Haases are alleged to have deprived Emma of sufficient food and needed medical attention and subjected Emma and her siblings to excessive forced exercise and inappropriate physical discipline.”

Brandon and Kristie Haas were arrested in Pennsylvania on October 2, 2020, as part of a joint operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple state and local law enforcement agencies. 

The investigation has been led by the Smyrna Police Department with significant investigative support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as other agencies. 

The Delaware Department of Justice continues to review whether additional charges are warranted. 

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