Nine-year-old Savannah Hardin passed away on Monday from a seizure, dehydration, and low sodium level. State pathologists are ruling her death as a homicide, as the seizure and dehydration was brought on by a punishment doled out by her grandmother and stepmother.
On Friday Hardin had lied to her grandmother about eating a candy bar; the punishment for the nine-year-old was to run for three-hours without stopping. After running the child was severely dehydrated and had a seizure. Jessica Mae Hardin, Savannah's stepmother called the police at 6:45 p.m. when Hardin became unresponsive.
Alabama Public Information Officer Natalie Barton told Reuters that it appears they ran her until she dropped. Currently authorities are unsure if Hardin ran due to verbal commands or physical coercion.
Other neighbors seemed concerned about the child running, some placing phone calls to the sheriff's office. Roger Simpson, a neighbor, witnessed the little girl running around 4 p.m. but didn't think anything was strange about it. Simpson told reporters that he saw her running, but I don't see how that would have killed her.
On Wednesday Savannah Hardin's stepmother, Jessica, and grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrad were taken into custody and face murder charges. They are being held at Etowah County Detention Center with a bail of $500,000 each.
Savannah Hardin was a third grader at Carlisle Elementary School. Superintendent for the school, Alan Crosby said that her desk has been made into a memorial.