GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Charges against the mother of an 8-year-old girl found dead in DeKalb County have been upgraded to murder.
Nicole Amari Hall was reported missing from an Extended Stay Hotel in Gwinnett County last weekend. The girl’s mother, Brittany Hall, claimed her daughter disappeared from the motel.
Police found Amari’s body Tuesday morning in a wooded area in the Stone Mill Trace neighborhood, which is near Stone Mountain State Park.
Brittany Hall’s partner, Celeste Owens, was charged with felony murder after inconsistencies in her statements to police. Hall was charged with concealing a death, filing a false police report and multiple counts of child cruelty.
This week, charges against Hall were upgraded to felony murder and malice murder.
Investigators told Channel 2′s Tom Regan that they don’t know how long Amari’s body had been in the woods when she was found.
“It’s extremely painful. We all have family, and we recognize the innocence of an 8-year-old child,” Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure said.
Police with K-9s fanned out in the area of the motel.
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Police say Hall eventually helped investigators locate the body.
They’re now trying to determine how the child was killed and where. At this time, investigators told Regan they don’t have a motive for the murder that started out as a missing person’s case.
“We worked extremely hard and, unfortunately, these were not the results we had hoped for,” McClure said. “My heart goes out to the extended family of Amari Hall.”
The medical examiner is working to determine the official cause of death.
Two other children living in Brittany Hall and Owens’ home, a 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, have been placed in DFCS custody.
People who live in the neighborhood where police found the little girl’s body say they are stunned.
Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln went out to the Stone Mill Trace neighborhood Tuesday afternoon where she found yellow crime scene tape still up from the area where investigators say Amari’s body was found.
Neighbors who live nearby said they were heartbroken over the discovery.
“I just seen a lot of police cars and detectives and once I came back through from the store, they had to duct tape the whole crime scene, and I was sure it was a body over there. But an 8-year-old child? I don’t even know how I slept that close to that child outside like that all night, but I’m just crestfallen for God that they found her body,” one neighbor said.
Investigators are working to learn why Amari’s body was left there. Neighbors told Lincoln if Amari was still living they would have taken her in.
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