VOLNEY, NY – Erin Maxwell was a bright, warm and friendly little girl who loved to read, state police Captain Mark Lincoln said Tuesday.
Before she died Aug. 30, Lincoln said the 11-year-old lived in difficult conditions at her home on Route 264 with her father, step-mother and step brother.
Early Tuesday morning, police arrested Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, charging each with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Alan Jones was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly causing ErinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner ruled ErinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death a homicide; the result of asphyxia.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œToday is about Erin Maxwell,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lincoln said during a press conference (full video below) that was held to announce the arrests.
During the past five weeks, Lincoln said investigators learned ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œtroubling detailsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â about the life Erin was living prior to her death.
Lincoln explained that Erin was being raised in a home with over 100 cats and caged poultry. The home reeked of cat urine. Feces was piled over 18 inches deep in one of the rooms at the home.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur investigation has revealedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that Erin was provided with only minimal amounts of food,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lincoln said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s also been revealed that Erin was routinely locked in a small bedroom approximately 5:30 p.m. where she was to remain overnight each evening.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Lincoln noted that economic hardship cannot be used to answer why the Maxwells lived as they did.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThose of us in law enforcement come across many families who face economic challenges,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lincoln said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe overwhelming majority of these families do the best the can to raise their children in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. The endangering charges suggest that this effort was not being made for Erin at 1678 Route 264.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Lincoln noted that Jones and the Maxwells were arrested at their new residence at 427 Silk Road, Lot 12, in Volney at approximately 8 a.m.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ(The displayed) no reaction, no emotion this morning during the arrest,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Lindsey and Lynn were arraigned in Palermo Town Court and remanded to the Oswego County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 secured bail bond.
Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd explained that said the six endangerment charges represent different time frames and different courses of conduct that spanned a series of months.
Jones was arraigned in Oswego County Court on an indictment from the Grand Jury. He was remanded to the county jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 secured bail bond.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is now a pending criminal case,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Dodd said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt went to county court by way of a vote of the grand jury. A not guilty plea was entered. The matter is returnable tomorrow in Oswego County Court.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Jones has no prior arrest or conviction record in New York state, nor is the county aware of any arrest or conviction record in any other state, Dodd said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAll of those matters are now pending criminal cases,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Dodd said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBy reason of the fact that they are now pending, as a district attorney it is ethically not proper for me to comment on the quality of the evidence or the quantity of the evidence.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Dodd said he would not address specific forms of evidence in the case. He pointed out that in any death investigation, the agency involved strives to develop both accurate and reliable information.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere is no timeline that attaches to that,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe test is accuracy and reliability. It takes the time necessary to accomplish those particular objectives.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
While the medical examiner listed ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œsexual traumaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â as a contributing factor in the childÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death, no sexually-related charges were brought forward in the arrests.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSexual trauma is not addressed in any court documents,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lincoln said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are aware that that is out there. We donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t anticipate charging any other subjects in this case at this time.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Dodd noted that any decision on motive will be made by a jury if the case advances to a courtroom.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI know people wish to know what happened and why, and motive goes to why,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ Dodd said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œUltimately the motive will be decided by a jury if we get to that particular procedure.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Salvatore Lanza, the attorney for the Maxwell family, pointed out Friday that police were investigating the case in the state of Nevada, as well. The child spent the summer there with Lindsey MaxwellÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s family.
Tuesday, Lincoln said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe have no evidence to suggest they should be suspects.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Because of the nature of the investigation, Lincoln said investigators were determined to bring it to a successful conclusion.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œCertainly, most of the investigators have children of their own and we have a soft spot for 11 year olds that are in circumstances such as this,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lincoln said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt certainly gives them a resolve to get to the bottom of what happened and to get some justice for Erin.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â