The father of a baby girl found dead last week after her parents left her with a baby sitter has a previous conviction for child neglect in which he allowed a man to sexually abuse a 12-year-old daughter.
Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn, the parents of 11-month-old Mercedes Lain, have been charged with child neglect in the little girl’s death, while babysitter Justin Miller has been charged with child neglect causing death, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Baby Mercedes’ body was found last Wednesday in a remote area of Starke County, Indiana, three days after the baby was reported missing and after the arrests of Lain, Coburn, and Miller. Miller reportedly led investigators to the body.
The South Bend Tribune reported that Lain pleaded guilty to neglect in 2016 when it was found that a 20-year-old man sexually abused Lain’s daughter. According to court records, Lain and his then-wife, Mary Lain, knew the abuse was happening and did nothing to stop it — even letting him live at their home for two months.
Mary Lain also pleaded guilty to neglect, and 20-year-old Angel Delapaz, pleaded guilty to child molestation. The 12-year-old later gave birth to son fathered by Delapaz.
According to the Tribune, the daughter told police her parents “discussed” her relationship with Delapaz with her and her father told her “age should not matter.” And Mary Lain, along with her boyfriend — who lived with both Lains and the 12-year-old at the time — admitted to investigators that Delapaz gave Kenneth Lain marijuana in exchange for having sex with the girl, ABC57 reported.
The 12-year-old was removed from the home, and later she and her son were adopted by a staffer at a group home, WKVI reported.
As for Mercedes, CrimeOnline previously reported that family members had been trying to have the child removed from the home with no success.
“We tried everything in our power to get this baby taken away from them,” Angie Owens, Mercedes’ maternal grandmother, said. “We have called [child protective services] many times. There’s nothing more that we could have done than what we did. We have gone beyond our power in doing what we could to help this baby.”
Owens said that Lain and Coburn were “definitely not good parents. They didn’t need to have a child.”
Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said last week there was “no evidence whatsoever” that Lain, who filed a missing person report on August 15, and Coburn knew that Mercedes was dead after she went missing. Court documents say the parents dropped Mercedes off with Miller on August 12 “so the parents could have a break.”
Miller and the girl were at a motel in Plymouth until August 14, when he took the baby to a house in Mishawaka. Miller told police that he woke up at some point that day and found the girl dead. He reportedly left the child’s body in a wooded area of Starke County later that day.
Chipman told the Tribune that an autopsy was conducted on Friday, but he did not immediately reveal the results.
Lain and Coburn are due back in court on September 15; charges against Miller were officially filed early Monday, and a court date has not been set.
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