DA: Mom Charged with Murder After Daughter, 3, Stored in Suitcase, Freezer

By Jodi Hernandez
|  Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014  |  Updated 6:09 PM PDT
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The Napa County District Attorney on Tuesday charged a mother and her boyfriend with murder and assault on a child, stemming from the death of a 3-year-old girl found in the mother's apartment over the weekend. Jodi Hernandez reports.

The Napa County District Attorney on Tuesday charged a mother and her boyfriend with murder and assault on a child, stemming from the death of a 3-year-old girl found in the mother's apartment over the weekend. Jodi Hernandez reports.

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Autopsy Conducted on 3-Year-Old Girl; Mother Arrested

The Napa County coroner on Monday performed an autopsy on a 3-year-old girl, whose mother and boyfriend were arrested in connection with her homicide. Jodi Hernandez reports.

Napa County Coroner Performs Autopsy on 3-Year-OId; Mother Arrested

Napa police arrested Sara Krueger, 23, and her boyfriend Ryan Scott Warner, 26, on suspicion of assault resulting in a child's death, homicide, and “special circumstances murder” after Krueger's daughter, Kayleigh Slusher, 3, was found dead in a bed on Saturday. The coroner performed an autopsy on Monday. Chase Cain reports
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The Napa County District Attorney on Tuesday charged a mother and her boyfriend with murder and assault on a child, stemming from the death of a 3-year-old girl found in the mother's apartment over the weekend.

Court documents indicate the body of Kayleigh Slusher was stored in a suitcase and then a freezer for three days, and that the little girl was "beaten to death" before that.

The mother of the 3-year-old Napa girl and her boyfriend stored Kayleigh's body in a suitcase, then a freezer, for three days, according to the documents. The girl's mother, Sara Kreuger, 23, and her boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, 26, were charged on Tuesday, after they had fled, and were taken into custody at the El Cerrito del Norte BART station.

On Saturday, Kayleigh was found dead on a bed at her mom's apartment in the 200 block of Wilkins Avenue in Napa. When police were conducting a welfare check on the girl, they said they found signs of foul play, including blunt-force trauma.

“Rarely do we have things of this level here in this community,” Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said. “We're a bedroom community. It's quiet for the most part. This type of crime rarely occurs.  It's shocking, shocking to everybody.”

The district attorney said Kreuger and Warner could face additional charges: The pathologist is still trying to determine whether the 3-year-old suffered sexual assault. If that’s the case, this could become a death penalty case.

Napa police on Monday confirmed that they were called to Krueger's residence 10 times last year for various crime reports, including domestic violence.

This year, Capt. Troendly said, officers were called out to the home on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 because they heard reports that the mom was allegedly using drugs and that her daughter hadn't been fed.

“There was nothing to indicate that anybody was impaired in any way where that child would have been in danger when that officer left,” Capt. Troendly said Tuesday.

However, he said, police conducted a field sobriety test on the mom and boyfriend, and interviewed Kayleigh, clearing the scene without finding anything amiss.

MORE:  Autopsy Conducted on 3-Year-Old Girl; Mother Arrested

Lawyer Mervin Lernhart appeared with Krueger on Tuesday. He pointed out that nothing has been proven. 

“She's been accused,” Lernhart said after court, “but she's presumed innocent at this time.”

The pair will be back in court Feb. 25 to enter pleas.

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