Death of Bowling Green 2-year-old ruled homicide - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Death of Bowling Green 2-year-old ruled homicide

Emma Zehnpfennig Emma Zehnpfennig

BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - Bowling Green Police Detectives are investigating the death of 2-year-old Emma Zehnpfennig.

Police said it all started with an apartment in Bowling Green Estates just off Fairview Avenue. That apartment is where the 2-year-old used to live with her mother and four siblings.

BG Police said the child was unresponsive and taken by an acquaintance of her mother to the Wood County Hospital emergency room Feb. 22. The child was then transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center where she was put on life support. She never regained consciousness so her family decided to take her off the life support.  

An autopsy was performed March 2 at the Lucas County Coroner's Office in cooperation with the Wood County Coroner's Office. A coroner's report, ruling the death a homicide, was released Tuesday. Police have not met with the coroner yet, but the report encouraged police to investigate the death as a homicide.

Officials are unsure of the cause of death. The autopsy results took longer because of waiting for toxicology reports. Now coroner's investigators said she died of head trauma and found evidence that she had been abused in the past.

Police said the homicide angle of the investigation is new, but their involvement is not.

"There were some indications upfront of some things that weren't quite right. Anytime you've got a 2-year-old that ends up in a fatality situation, we have to question what caused that circumstance to exist, and that's why our officers got involved in the investigation upfront," explained Lt. Bradley Biller of the BGPD.

BG Police said everyone involved with the 2-year-old is under scrutiny, which includes her immediate family members, who no longer live in the apartment complex.

Neighbors said the community is devastated.

"She was really cute. It was devastating. Heartbreaking," said Angela Drayton.

Drayton said she and her neighbors watched as police went through the child's former home.

People close to the family said they cannot believe this happened to someone so young.

"She was just learning how to talk and we originally met them about a year ago, so she was just learning how to walk," said Melissa Herzig.

Neighbors said they are unsure what happened.

"It's been different. It's - nobody really knows what's going on. I mean, it's been a sad thing to deal with," said Herzig.

Police said they will be working closely with the Wood County prosecutor to figure out what happened and who was involved.

Anyone with information related to the case is urged to call Bowling Green Police at 419-352-2571 or Wood County CrimeStoppers at 419-352-0077. Callers to CrimeStoppers have the opportunity to remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000.

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