A 19-year-old Texas mom is accused of intentionally leaving her two toddler daughters to die inside a hot car for more than 15 hours outside a friend’s house where she was partying, authorities say.
Amanda Hawkins, of Kerrville, was arrested June 9, a day after her daughters, Addyson, 2, and Brynn, 1, died at a local hospital, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
Hawkins was charged with two counts of abandoning or endangering a child and is being held on $70,000 bail at the Bexar County Jail, police said. It is not clear if she has hired an attorney.
Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said in a press release that the charges could be upgraded after the case is presented to a grand jury. It is being prosecuted by 216th Judicial District Attorney Lucy Wilke, who could not be reached for comment. Wilke told the San Antonio Express-News more charges could be forthcoming and she is reviewing the case.
“These children were left in that car intentionally,” Hierholzer told KABB-TV. “Helpless little kids,” the sheriff said. “And it was totally preventable.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hawkins Was Inside a House Partying & Refused to Bring Her Daughters Inside When Someone Heard Them Crying, the Sheriff Says
Amanda Hawkins is accused of abandoning or endangering a child after the deaths of her daughters, Addyson Overgard-Eddy, 2, and Brynn Hawkins, 1, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
An investigation into their death began on June 8, after the girls died at University Hospital in San Antonio, the sheriff’s office said. A team from the sheriff’s office, the Kerrville Police Department, Texas Rangers and Child Protective Services carried out the investigation.
Investigators determined the girls were left in Hawkins SUV “intentionally” for more than 15 hours, the sheriff’s office said. Hawkins was inside a nearby friend’s home during that time, from the evening of Tuesday, June 6, to about noon on Wednesday, June 7, according to investigators.
The SUV’s windows were partially down during part of the 15 hours the kids were inside, and the temperature was about 60 degrees overnight, Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer told the Houston Chronicle. Temperatures rose to about 85 degrees at noon Wednesday, with humidity about 96 percent, meaning it could have felt like 105 degrees, the newspaper reports.
Police said a 16-year-old boy who was at the house went out to the SUV to check on the girls and spent time with them for a “little while,” but did not get them help or bring them inside, KABB-TV reports.
During the night of partying, friends told Hawkins they could hear the girls crying, the sheriff told the news station. The friends told Hawkins to bring her daughters inside, but she refused, according to the sheriff.
“She told them, ‘No it’s fine. They’ll cry themselves to sleep,’” the sheriff told the Washington Post.
Hierholzer said the girls didn’t have food, water or bathroom visits during the 15 hours inside the SUV.
Brynn Hawkins’ father, Amanda’s husband, Isaac Hawkins, could not be reached for comment. Addyson Overgard-Eddy’s father, Austin Overgard, has also not commented. Neither father is being charged in connection with the girls’ deaths and they both do not appear to have played any role in the incident, authorities say.
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2. She First Claimed Her Daughters Collapsed While ‘Smelling Flowers,’ but Later Said She Was Just Afraid of Getting Into Trouble
Amanda Hawkins first brought her daughters to Peterson Regional Medical Center on June 7, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said. She told authorities that the girls were in grave condition when she sought help.
According to the sheriff’s office, Hawkins was accompanied by a 16-year-old male, who has not been identified. She told hospital personnel that she was with the teen boy and her daughters at Flat Rock Lake and “the girls were smelling flowers,” police said. “When they got ready to leave the 1-year-old collapsed and shortly after that the 2-year-old collapsed,” Hawkins told hospital staff.
She suggested that the girls might have smelled something poisonous, police said.
“There’s a lake close to where they were,” Hierholzer told The Washington Post. “She said the little girls were walking around smelling flowers. She didn’t know if maybe they’d ingested or touched a poisonous flower.”
But investigators later learned she was not telling the truth after the story “unravelled” quickly. She confessed that the girls had been in her car outside a friend’s house for more than 15 hours, according to police.
“Upon discovering the girls, the mother attempted to (bathe) them and did not immediately want to take the girls to the hospital because she didn’t want to get into trouble,” the sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff said Hawkins attempted to cover-up what happened to the girls by washing them while they were likely unconscious and re-dressing them.
The girls were transported to University Hospital in San Antonio because of their condition. They were taken off ventilators and died about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
An autopsy was conducted by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office on June 9, but the results have not yet been released.
The investigation is ongoing.
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3. Hawkins & Her Husband Were Evicted in May & She Set Up a GoFundMe Account to Try to Raise Money for a New House
Hawkins, who is married to Isaac Hawkins, works at the Walmart Supercenter in Kerrville as a stocker, according to her Facebook page. She attended Hill Country High School in Kerrville, which is about 65 miles outside of San Antonio.
The couple were evicted from a home in Kerrville in May, according to court documents. The couple’s landlord sued them in Kerr County court. A judgement was awarded to the landlord on May 3, ordering them to pay her past rent of $1,984.99 and court costs of $211, with a post-judgement interest of 5 percent beginning May 4. They were also ordered to leave the home by May 8, with rent of $28.33 per day until they left.
Amanda Hawkins started a GoFundMe account to try to raise money to find a new home, the San Antonio Express-News reports. She was asking for $1,500 in financial donations, but did not raise any money.
“I’m trying to raise money to get us into a home. We are living with my grandparents. We are both working but it’s still hard. Any help is greatly appreciated. We will be buying this house,” she wrote, according to the newspaper.
Amanda and Isaac Hawkins are estranged, the newspaper reports. They were married in 2015, she posted on Facebook.
A neighbor, who did not want to be named, at the duplex where Hawkins, her husband and daughters lived, told the newspaper, “It’s terrible. The poor little things.”
She said there was a “large mess” left behind when the Hawkins family was evicted.
“One of the little girls was always running around in a diaper. No shoes, no nothing,” the woman told the newspaper.
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4. Amanda & Isaac Hawkins Were Investigated by Child Protective Services Last Year & Investigators Say It Wasn’t the First Time She Left Her Kids in the SUV
Amanda and Isaac Hawkins were investigated by the state Child Protective Services agency last year, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The agency could not provide details about its interaction with the family. The investigation took place in September 2016, CPS spokeswoman Mary Walker told the newspaper.
Hawkins’ friend, Miriam Davis, told KSAT-TV she was concerned about how Hawkins treated her daughters and considered calling Child Protective Services. She said she regrets she never did that.
“I guess I just hesitated for so long. I didn’t want her kids to be in the system, but I didn’t know they would die if they didn’t,” she told the news station. “If anyone feels something’s not right, they need to call CPS, because you don’t want two kids to die. It’s just not fair.”
Davis told the news station she has known Hawkins since high school.
“We both had kids, and it was nice to hang out,” Davis said. “Addy was so helpful. She would like to go get you things and bring ‘em to you. Brynn was just learning how to walk and she was toddling all over the place.”
Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer told KABB-TV his agency has “no history” with Amanda Hawkins and the family, but said investigators learned that it was not the first time Hawkins left her children alone in the SUV.
The girls’ death shocked the region and their family.
“I had the two most beautiful grandbabies,” Alisha Eddy, Amanda Hawkins, mother, told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t agree with what happened … but I love my daughter. I’m there for my daughter.”
An aunt, who did not give her name, told the newspaper, “We’re just bewildered and confused.”
Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer told KTSA-TV, “It’s just one of those deals that’s extremely hard on investigators having to work these cases where you’ve got a one-year old and two year old real cute little blonde hair, blue eyed girls. It’s really hard. We’ve all got kids or grandkids.”
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5. The Sheriff Says It’s the ‘Most Horrific’ Case of Child Abuse He’s Seen in 37 Years
Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said in a press release that more charges could be brought against Amanda Hawkins after a grand jury hears the case.
“This is by far the most horrific case of child endangerment that I have seen in the 37 years that I have been in law enforcement,” Hierholzer said.
He told the Washington Post most cases where a child is left in a car are “accidents,” but Hawkins, “knew those kids were back there. She left them in that car.”
The abandoning or endangering a child charges are second-degree felonies because the victims were placed in “imminent danger of death or bodily injury,” according to state law. She could face between 2 to 20 years in state prison if convicted of the charges.
The sheriff told KABB-TV the 16-year-old boy who accompanied Hawkins to the hospital and checked on the girls during the night could also face charges.
Police have not released details about the 16-year-old or his relationship to the girls and Hawkins.
Hierholzer said the teen will “probably have to face some charges,” and “does have some culpability in this.”
It is not clear if anyone else at the house could face charges.
Hawkins is still being held at the Bexar County Jail after being arrested in San Antonio, and is expected to be transferred to Kerr County this week. She has not yet appeared in court.
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