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Police say deaths of Loranger woman and kidnapped daughter could end with executions of perpetrators

4 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago Friday, June 14 2024 Jun 14, 2024 June 14, 2024 11:00 PM June 14, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

LORANGER — Law officers in Louisiana and Mississippi said Friday that they would expect prosecutors to seek the death penalty for those believed responsible for the deaths of a Loranger woman and one of her young daughters who had been abducted. Mississippi police have two in custody.

A woman arrested Friday, Victoria Cox, 32, is possibly a girlfriend or other type of acquaintance to Daniel Callihan, who was arrested Thursday after the death of Callie Brunett, 35, in Loranger and the killing of Erin Brunett in the Jackson area, Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade said.

Wade said the Mississippi case could ultimately lead to Callihan's or Cox's execution if prosecutors wish to go that route.

"She will be held accountable for her actions and role in this horrific event that happened," Wade said. "She could be facing capital murder charges along with him."

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in a separate news conference later Friday that executions could be an appropriate penalty, given how heinous the crimes were.

Around the time Edwards spoke, the Brunett family told WBRZ that Jalie Brunett, 6, had been released from a hospital and was on her way home to Loranger with her grandparents.

Cox was picked up without incident at the OYO motel in South Jackson early Friday. Wade said officers learned Thursday that Callihan may have been traveling with someone else and tracked Cox to the OYO motel Friday. After an interview with police, Cox was taken to the Hinds County jail. She did not talk to reporters as she walked through a line of reporters.

Tangipahoa Parish court records showed Victoria Cox lives about a mile away from the Brunett home in Loranger. WBRZ visited her home Friday and spoke to a relative who said they hadn't seen her in months and she had recently gotten out of rehab. Cox's family didn't know her alleged involvement until the news came out Friday morning and said she was "in deep trouble."  

The body of Callie Brunett was found in her home Thursday morning and her two daughters were abducted. Erin Brunett was killed Thursday afternoon as police closed in on Callihan, Wade said Thursday.

"This has sent shock waves across the Gulf South that this actually happened," Wade said Friday. "He killed the mother. Took her children. Brought the children to Jackson, Mississippi. Killed one of the children. And probably if law enforcement hadn't intervened, the other child would probably be deceased as well."

Earlier Friday, Rankin County officials released a booking photo of a man linked to the deaths. Separately, federal and Mississippi state investigators said they were joining the probe. The FBI is investigating because Callihan crossed a state line while committing crimes, Wade said.

Callihan, 36, was arrested Thursday after Erin Brunett was found dead in a wooded area in the Jackson suburb of Byram. The body of the girl's mother was found Thursday morning in the family home. Jalie Brunett was found hurt and taken to a Jackson-area hospital, Wade said.

The FBI said it became involved in the case Thursday morning when the situation changed from a missing persons case to a homicide investigation and abduction.

"The FBI has now opened a full investigation into the Brunett matter. We will continue to collaborate with our local law enforcement partners at the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and Jackson Police Department," the FBI said Friday. "The FBI is dedicating all available resources and tools at its disposal to this investigation, including Victim Services personnel, who are working closely with the survivors of this unspeakable tragedy."
Mississippi's Bureau of Investigation said it, too, was helping.
"MBI will pursue any charges on the state level of the investigation and continue working with all local and federal partners involved," it said.

Both agencies declined further comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Law officers said Callihan and Callie Brunett had been in a relationship previously.

Erin Brunett, whose age was listed both as 3 and as 4, was found dead about 7 hours after her mother was found dead in Loranger. It wasn't immediately clear when Callie Brunett died or how long Callihan had the girls in the Jackson area. 

Wade said it appeared Callihan killed the younger girl as police moved in. 

"Once he realized law enforcement knew where he was, he tried to do away with the children," Wade said.

According to investigators, Callihan was driving Callie Brunett's car and a license plate reader alerted law officers and the U.S. Marshals Service to his general whereabouts.

Wade said that cages had been found in the area where the girls were found and speculated on whether there was a larger plot.

"Based on the crime scene, what it looks like, this may be the place where there has been some human trafficking done," Wade said. "We see cages, small animal cages. This is very, very disturbing to me as a police chief and as a father to witness and see what I saw."

"We don't know if there are other children in the woods," Wade said. "If this individual has used this location as a location to traffic children and abduct children, we want to make sure we have that evidence to make sure him and whoever else is prosecuted for this heinous, heinous, terrible act."

The family created a GoFundMe for the funeral expenses for Callie and Erin Brunett, which can be accessed here.

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