Six-year-old Hannah Mack was last seen at around 1:00 A.M., sleeping peacefully on the couch in the family’s rural Texas home. The next time she would be seen was when her mother found the child hanging in the families garage. The little girl had been assaulted and then hung to death.
According to police, the girls mother, Dana Mack, began searching for her youngest daughter after she realized Hannah was missing when it was time for her to get ready for school. Family members set out looking for Hannah around the property, and that’s when her mother discovered her in the garage. The families house lies in a lakeside community in Eastern Texas, in the town of Corsicana. The garage where the girls body was found sits alone behind the house, and the property is described as secluded.
“I will confirm that the hanging and sexual assault were part of this
scenario,” said Navarro County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mit Cox.
However, police were remaining extremely tight-lipped about the
investigation, something that neighbors found unnerving. In a letter to the Sheriff’s Department, judge Vicki Gray said that an autopsy of the little girl showed “a multitude of events that together caused the death of this child.” Aside from that, no other details were released.
“(Dana) is just devastated. We all are,” said Jean Langford, the girls great-grandmother. “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to this family. Hannah was our pride and joy. She was our little sweetheart.”
After the incident, police interviewed several people and began focusing on the boyfriend of the girls mother as their primary suspect. A couple weeks later, a DNA sample was taken from the shirt that the slain first-grader was wearing, and entered into a Texas Department of Public Safety database. It returned a possible match-19-year-old Shaun Earl Arender, an apparent stranger to the girl. He was already in jail on unrelated burglary and drug-posession charges.
Police have charged the man with capital murder. Investigators said they believe that Arender was “in the course of committing or attempting to commit the offense of aggravated sexual assault” against the girl, according to a Police affidavit. It also stated that when questioned by police, Shaun would not give a statement, but put his head on the table and cried. Two days earlier, while in custody on the burglary charge, he was taken to the a hospital for ‘depression’ after cutting himself with a piece of glass. His bond was set at $2.5 million.
Family members of the slain girl said that Arender did not appear to have had any connection to Hannah. It appears that she fell victim to a home invasion abduction, and was snatched sometime early in the morning. Given Arenders burglary history, it’s possible that he was intending on burglarizing the families home, and Hannah ended up falling victim to a spur of the moment crime. Unless Mr. Arender talks, (assuming of course he ends up being the perpetrator), no one will ever be sure.
One thing is for certain: Home invasion abductions (cases where
someone snatches a child from their own home in the middle of the
night) are taking the lives of far too many children. As frightening as such a scenario sounds, these can be just as preventable as other
abductions. There are things children can be taught to help protect
themselves, and steps parents can take to prevent such an occurrence from happening. See the information available at
www.keepyourchildsafe.org about child abduction prevention.