Right before he turned himself in on a warrant, Kyle Barrett said he got one last moment with his 4-year-old daughter Gabrielle.
“I got to give her a kiss and a hug and say I loved her,” he told the Detroit Free Press.
It would be the last time the 26-year-old from Sumpter Township, Michigan, would ever see his daughter alive.
Police say they found Gabrielle unresponsive on Jan. 1 just before 11 a.m. with burns and bruises covering her body, according to Michigan Live. The girl, who family members were performing CPR on when officers arrived, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
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Her father got out of jail two days later — and soon pleaded with Candice Diaz, the girl’s 24-year-old mother, to turn herself and her boyfriend Brad Fields, 28, in to authorities.
They are both wanted on charges of murder, child abuse and torture, police wrote in a press release.
“Do I think she did it? To be honest with you, no,” Barrett told WXYZ about Diaz. “I think she had something to do with it but I think it was her boyfriend that actually abused them.”
"I want her to turn herself in," he added, "I want justice for Gabby."
A week after Gabrielle’s death, both Diaz and Fields were arrested outside of Lake Park, Georgia on Jan. 9, police wrote. There was a $5,000 reward for anyone who helped capture the pair, who police believe fled in a car after the girl’s death was ruled a homicide on Jan. 3.
According to a court document obtained by the Free Press, Diaz told a Child Protective Services Worker that her daughter was burned on Dec. 31 after the 4-year-old prepared her own bath — but the mother said she didn’t seek medical treatment for injuries.
Diaz said she gave her a daughter a bath the next day, and “left Gabrielle alone in the tub and went to the kitchen to make pancakes.” When Diaz returned, she said she found the child under the water and that the girl continued to throw up after she was pulled out of the bathtub, the Free Press reported.
It took 36 minutes for Diaz to call 911, police say. According to court documents, the girl was so badly burned that police say melted skin was found in a drain and her big toe fell off. There were other old injuries on Gabrielle that suggested she had been abused over a longer period of time than just a few days, according to the Statesman.
Her grandparents grieved that her short life was cut off so soon.
"She was a ball of joy. She always had a smile on her face, loved to play. She would run around the house when we had her always with a big ole smile on her face," Deborah Barrett, her grandmother, told Fox2. "Keep flying, Gabby. Keep flying. We're watching you and we love you."
But her father wants answers.
"She didn't have to pass the way she did but I hope we get justice for her really soon,” Barrett said to Fox2. “I know we may not have a lot of information at all, but, it just hurts.”