Arizona police arrested four adult relatives in case of 10-year-old Ame Deal, who died of suffocation after being locked in a storage bin as a punishment for taking a Popsicle without permission.
Ame Deal on July 12 was found dead outside the Phoenix home where she lived with her aunt, grandmother and two cousins, Reuters reported quoting police.
Family members during the initial investigation told police that Ame and the other children were playing hide and seek.
Authorities arrested the Ame's elder cousin Samantha and her husband John Allen, both 23, on Wednesday night on suspicion of first-degree murder after they confessed to locking the child in the storage container, police said.
Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, the girl's aunt and legal guardian and Samantha's mother, along with Judith Deal, 62, Stoltzmann's mother was nailed on Wednesday on suspicion of child abuse and kidnapping.
Police while discussing the case at a press briefing on Thursday said that Ame apparently was locked in the storage bin as a punishment for taking a Popsicle from the refrigerator. Before locking her in the bin they forced her to do backbends and other exercises, and also impelled her to run in the backyard despite the summer heat.
"This child died at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her," said Sergeant Trent Crump, a spokesman for the Phoenix police. "This case has turned the stomachs of some of most seasoned detectives."
Police said the girl who died was 4 feet, 2 inches tall and the box in which she was locked in was less than 3 feet long, 14 inches wide and about a foot deep.
When the girl's body was found it was she wearing soiled clothes and it was very dirty, with marks on her right knee apparently from "forceful contact with the interior lid," investigators reported.
Crump said that detectives were still investigating the case about how they got the custody of the girl.