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CRIME NEWS     CRIME ANALYSIS     TRUE CRIME STORIES
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By Rampart Stonebridge, updated on July 7, 2023

4-year-old killed - Mother’s boyfriend sentenced to 50 years in prison

In a chilling case that has gripped Kentucky, a four-year-old girl's remains were found in a suitcase, leading to the arrest of her mother and her mother's boyfriend, with the latter now facing a 50-year prison sentence.

The case revolves around the tragic death of Serenity McKinney, whose skeletal remains were discovered wrapped in plastic inside a suitcase after being thrown into the woods.. The autopsy report revealed fractures in both her arms and legs, but no definitive evidence of "lethal trauma". The suitcase was also filled with a sand-like substance. Despite the lack of a clear cause of death, the circumstances led the coroner to classify it as a homicide.

WHAS11 reported that Serenity's body was found in February in a wooded area of Bullitt County, near the Jefferson County line. This discovery marked the end of a six-month-long investigation into her disappearance. However, Serenity's grandmother, Melody Roller, claimed that the child hadn't been seen by relatives in almost two years.

Aftermath

Dakota Hugh Hill, a 27-year-old man from Kentucky, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, Serenity Ann McKinney. Hill admitted to killing Serenity, stuffing her body in a suitcase, and discarding it in the woods. The sentence was handed down by Bullitt County Circuit Court Judge Rodney D. Burress.

Hill had reached a deal with prosecutors in May, pleading guilty to one count each of murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence in exchange for the half-century sentence. Serenity’s mother, Catherine Abigail McKinney, also pleaded guilty to one count each of manslaughter, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison, on the condition that she would testify against Hill if his case went to trial.

Bullitt County Commonwealth Attorney Bailey Taylor expressed satisfaction with the sentence, stating, “50 years is a considerably long period of time and I believe under the circumstances, is appropriate.” He also noted that while Hill would be eligible for parole after 20 years, the chances of him being released were slim.

Before the sentence was handed down, Hill read a prepared statement in which he apologized for his actions and the pain he caused Serenity’s family. However, Serenity’s grandmother, Melody Roller, expressed that no amount of punishment would ever be enough for the pain caused by Hill and McKinney.

Remembering Serenity: A Life Cut Short

Roller, in her grief, urged people to remember Serenity for her beautiful smile and not the monstrous act that ended her life. She requested the community to pray for their family during this difficult time.

Serenity’s mother, Catherine "Abby" McKinney, and her boyfriend, Dakota Hill, have both been charged with murder and abuse of a corpse in connection to the young girl's death. They remain in custody at the Bullitt County Jail, awaiting trial.

While Roller expressed her wish that the autopsy report not be released, Bullitt County Commonwealth's attorney Bailey Taylor explained that sometimes it's necessary to share sensitive information, respectfully.

"So it's a delicate line you walk but it's something that in these types of cases you just can't avoid doing,"

Legal Proceedings and the Pursuit of Justice

Taylor also mentioned that he doesn't believe the release of the autopsy report will affect the way they present the case. McKinney and Hill appeared in court on Oct. 10 for a pre-trial hearing, with the trial set to commence on Jan. 31, 2023.

Serenity's father, DJ Roller, and her extended family are still grieving their insurmountable loss. They remember Serenity as a budding singer, puzzle solver, fisher, and princess.

"You could tell there was a heck of a future ahead of her, just breathtaking,” Roller said. "I’m not going to stop, I’m going to keep pushing until justice is served."

A Community Mourns and Seeks Answers

The tragic death of Serenity McKinney has left a community in shock and mourning. As the legal proceedings unfold, many are left grappling with the question of how such a horrific act could have happened to a child who had her whole life ahead of her.

The case serves as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and community support to protect the most vulnerable among us. As the community prays for Serenity's family, they also seek justice for the young life tragically cut short.

As we await the trial's commencement in January 2023, the memory of Serenity's beautiful smile and the promise of a "heck of a future" will continue to haunt those who knew her and those who have come to know her through this tragic story.

Conclusion: A Tragic Tale and the Pursuit of Justice

  • The tragic death of 4-year-old Serenity McKinney, whose remains were found in a suitcase, has led to the arrest and charging of her mother and her mother's boyfriend.
  • The boyfriend now faces a 50-year prison sentence.
  • Despite the lack of a clear cause of death, the circumstances led the coroner to classify it as a homicide.
  • Serenity's grandmother, Melody Roller, has urged people to remember Serenity for her beautiful smile and not the monstrous act that ended her life.
  • The trial of the accused is set to commence on Jan. 31, 2023.

If you found this article informative, please consider sharing on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness about this issue.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.

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