Funeral set for toddler allegedly killed by abuse

Atelia Hunt is charged with homicide by child abuse (Source: BPD)
Atelia Hunt is charged with homicide by child abuse (Source: BPD)
Home where the alleged neglect took place (Source: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith)
Home where the alleged neglect took place (Source: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith)
Alexander "Mike" Huckabee, Jr. charged with homicide by child abuse (Source: BPD)
Alexander "Mike" Huckabee, Jr. charged with homicide by child abuse (Source: BPD)
Edna Hunt (Source: Eugenia Mishoe)
Edna Hunt (Source: Eugenia Mishoe)

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) The funeral of a 3-year-old child who allegedly died at the hands of her mother and mother's boyfriend will be held Monday in Pembroke.

Marlboro County Coroner Tim Brown said he released to body of Edna Trinity Hunt to her family Friday to the Revel Funeral Home located on Breece Street in Pembroke.

Lt. Larry Turner, spokesman for the Bennettsville Police Department, said officers were dispatched to the Marlboro Park Hospital in reference to the death of the toddler on Oct. 6.

According to Turner, the child was taken to the emergency room by her mother for an apparent cardiac arrest. Turner said during an examination of the child's body, it was obvious that the child had been abused for some time.

Turner said the child suffered from significant bruising along her body and also had burns in her genital area as well as her buttocks.

Upon further investigation, Hunt was arrested and charged with unlawful neglect toward a child. The toddler's body was sent to the Medical University of South Carolina for a complete autopsy.

"This is a very unfortunate situation not just for the family of the child but for the community as a whole," said Bennettsville Police Chief Larry McNeil in an interview on Monday with WMBF News.

The Hunt family released a statement on Wednesday to WMBF News discussing the case:

"On October 6, we suffered a great loss that will forever leave us feeling empty inside.  We lost Edna Trinity Mazzell Hunt, a beautiful angel placed here to spread joy and happiness to those around her.  The world is now a darker place without her beautiful smiling face.  The only comfort we have is knowing that she is in a place where no one can hurt her again; a place where she can play all day and eat ice cream as much as she wants; a place where she will be waiting to play with all her loved ones again."

Investigators have not determined an exact cause of death but it's believed final autopsy results could be released by the end of the week.

On Oct. 7, Bennettsville Police arrested Mike Huckabee, Jr., 29. Officers said Huckabee is the boyfriend of Hunt and there were three children living in their home.

Both were originally charged with unlawful neglect of a child, however, after the preliminary autopsy results, both are now charged with homicide by child abuse.

Oct. 9, Chief Larry McNeil said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was assisting in the investigation.

"Hopefully nothing like this will ever happen again and we can do something that will be helpful to other people." Chief McNeil added.

During an interview with WMBF News, the suspect's sister asked those outside the case to wait for more information before passing judgement. In a statement also released Thursday night, the family asked for calm.

"The circumstances surrounding Edna's death has left us all numb.  We have the same questions as everyone who knows of this situation.  How could this happen to a child?  How could anyone take it upon themselves to harm a child in any way?  Why did the mother not stop this? 

We do not know all the details.  We may never know all that has transpired.  We have not had any contact with Atelia to hear what she has to say.  What we do know is she cares for her children tremendously, regardless of public opinion.  We ask that judgment be reserved for the courtroom and God. 

For now, let's put Edna the brightest of spotlights where she belongs.  Let's remember her smiling face.  Let's remember how she brought happiness to the lives of those who loved and cared for her.  There will be plenty of time for the negativity after she has been given the proper burial.

Thank you for this opportunity to convey our thoughts.  Please respect our privacy as we wish to mourn this loss in peace.  There will be no other statements from the family." said the statement.

Further details surrounding Edna's cause of death and other information were not immediately made available and continue to pend autopsy results.

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