BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. -- A Bartow County couple now is facing felony murder charges in the death of a 1-year-old girl from last month.
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap told WSB-TV Channel 2's Diana Davis Monday that the autopsy shows a long and systematic pattern of child abuse.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” Millsap said.
The Sheriff's Office says Journey Ann Cowart was beaten to death by her mother and boyfriend and that the beating that killed her two weeks ago was not the first.
“A fractured skull, blunt-force trauma to the stomach; the child had healed ribs that had previously been broken. And she also had a femur that had cracked and had already healed,” Millsap said.
Brandy Ann Boyd and Austin Payne were initially charged with cruelty to children and aggravated battery.
Based on the autopsy, the charges have been upgraded. The pair is now charged with felony murder.
“The medical examiner says this appears to be the worst she has ever seen,” Millsap told Davis. “It’s a systematically, six to seven months of abuse on this young child.”
The child's father drowned last April. The Sheriff’s Office said her mother and boyfriend had been together about eight months.
Investigators said they had not received reports of child abuse in the home from either the Division of Family and Children's Services or family members.
If the allegations are proved true, the sheriff told Davis it will be the one of the worst cases of child abuse he’s seen in his career.
“I love what I do, but that's the part that makes it hard, especially this little girl has no more chances. She's out. Rest in peace,” Millsap said.
The sheriff said the case remains open. He said it is possible the charges in this case could be upgraded again to malice murder.
Video: WSB-TV Atlanta