A couple has been charged on Friday for the 2012 torture and murder of their four-year-old daughter and sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.
The victim, Samiah Downing, was believed to have gone through excruciating pain during her life with her parents. Authorities found the young girl dead on December 27, 2012, after visiting with her father, 29-year-old Ronald Dean Greer Jr., and his girlfriend, 27-year-old Bianca Annie Mae Stanch.
The girl’s body was found inside a shallow grave in the San Bernardino County desert. Officials discovered the victim was brutally beaten, burned with scalding water, and denied water as punishment.
During an autopsy, medical professionals found the cause of death to be dehydration, said San Bernardino County prosecutors. They also noted the girl was severely malnourished.
“At the time of her death, Samiah’s weight placed her in the fifth percentile for her age. Samiah had been in the 50th percentile for her weight just six months before her death,” a news release by prosecutors said.
Earlier this year, Stanch’s cousin, Rayshawn Laurice Stanch, pleaded guilty for his involvement with the crime.
“Unfortunately, because of the actions of her father and his girlfriend, Samiah wasn’t here to tell her own story to the jurors. Thankfully, the evidence at trial told the tragic story of her. Samiah was betrayed by the people closest to her, and they have now been held accountable for that betrayal,” Deputy District Attorney Justin Crocker said.
In late December 2012, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies received information that Samiah was reportedly missing. Later on, detectives interviewed Greer and Stanch, searching their home for the missing girl.
“At the conclusion of the interviews, investigators were led to an area in the desert south of Baker. A shallow grave was located where the 4-year-old’s remains were recovered,” said authorities at the time.
Officials charged all three defendants with murder, torture, and assault of Samiah, which caused her death. Prosecutors said the victim’s life was filled with daily beatings by then-19-year-old Stanch.
“According to witnesses, Stanch had an extreme dislike for Samiah and treated her poorly. Both Stanch and Greer also routinely used a denial of water as a form of punishment” said prosecutors, adding the father did not try to protect his daughter.
Last October, the couple appeared in a court trial where witnesses said the two would sometimes duct tape Samiah’s ankles and wrists as punishment, denying her water in the process. They also allegedly placed a deadbolt on her bedroom door to lock in her from the outside.
“On one occasion, Samiah was able to get out to the kitchen where she drank the only liquid she could find, which was a cleaning solution,” said prosecutors.
Authorities believe the couple beat Samiah and forced her to stand for eight hours in a corner the day before her death, which they believed was on December 15, 2012. Greer and Stanch then continued the abuse the following day, with the mother beating the victim with a belt and cords.
“Stanch then poured a pot of boiling water on Samiah’s back and chest. Samiah was also denied water to drink during these final days of her life,” prosecutors said, FOX23 reported.
Authorities said Samiah became “lethargic and sleepy” the night she passed away after being locked in her bedroom and left alone with Rayshawn Stanch. After coming home from getting dinner, the couple discovered the young girl was dead. The three then took the victim’s body out and buried her in the desert.