BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Monday marks one year since 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney was kidnapped during a party in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood. Ten days later, her body was found in a dumpster.
Here is a running timeline of the McKinney murder case, from her disappearance to her death and the court proceedings against those charged with her kidnapping and murder.
Oct. 12- Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, a 3-year-old girl, goes missing in the Tom Brown Village housing project in the Avondale neighborhood in Birmingham. According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, McKinney was last seen at 8:30 p.m. and may have been taken by a man and woman in a blue SUV. An Amber Alert is issued statewide in the midst of her disappearance.
Oct. 13- The Birmingham Police Department confirms McKinney went missing during a children’s birthday part in Tom Brown Village and that she was last seen playing with other children. The BPD calls in federal partners and police departments in the surrounding cities are also helping in the search of McKinney, including the FBI.
The BPD searches for a black man and white woman driving an older model 2001-06 dark-colored Toyota Sequoia with beige trim.
The day after McKinney’s disappearance, father Dominic McKinney spoke about why the family called her “Cupcake.”
“It was something I came up with,” McKinney said. “When she came out, she was all cute and red with little brown eyes and I said, ‘That’s my cupcake.’”
McKinney’s family held out hope they would find her.
“We’re going to find here,” Dominic said. “If that’s the last thing I do on this Earth, we’re going to find her.”
A person of interest is later identified and taken into custody.
Oct. 14- A second person of interest is also taken into custody. The BPD confirms a Toyota Sequoia believed to be involved in the 3-year-old’s abduction was found near Center Point Oct. 13, where the two individuals were taken in for questioning.
That same day, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey offered an initial reward of $5,000 for McKinney’s return.
Vigils that were held in the area and the search expanded to surroundings states, but no leads were found. Despite this, McKinney’s family held out hope for her safe return.
“I miss my baby, I want her to come home,” said LeKisha Simpson, McKinney’s grandmother. “That is all I want is for my baby to come home.”
Oct. 15– The BPD announces Patrick Devone Stallworth, 39, and Derick Irisha Brown, 29, had been in police custody the last couple of days, where they had been questioned by police working the case.
“During the investigation, detectives interviewed both subjects in relation to the disappearance of Kamille McKinney,” BPD Chief Patrick Smith said. “Although investigators were unable to gather pertinent information on the location of Kamille McKinney, evidence was obtained to allow detectives to obtain warrants on both subjects.”
Neither Stallworth or Brown were charged with kidnapping at the time. Stallworth was arrested on child pornography possession charges and Brown was arrested after violating her probation.
That same day, the reward for McKinney’s return was raised to $6,000.
Oct. 16- Police arrive at an apartment complex in the 2700 block of Jefferson Avenue on a tip that McKinney was being held there. After an extensive search of the area, McKinney was nowhere to be found.
The reward for information leading to McKinney’s return is raised to $25,000.
That same day, CBS 42 spoke to McKinney’s 11-year-old brother, Amaree, who said he missed his sister and was praying for her safe return.
“I believe she’s still in Birmingham somewhere,” Amaree said.
Oct. 17- Stallworth, one of the two individuals taken in for questioning in relation to the abduction of McKinney, was released on bond.
The reward for McKinney’s return is raised to $30,000.
Oct. 18- The BPD releases video taken at Tom Brown Village the night of McKinney’s disappearance. The blurry images show her and an unidentified man shortly before she was kidnapped.
In addition, news of McKinney’s disappearance turns into a national story with celebrities like actress Kristen Bell of “The Good Place” bringing awareness to her case.
Oct. 22- BPD Chief Patrick Smith confirms that the McKinney’s remains are believed to have been found in a dumpster at an apartment building in Center Point, where Stallworth and Brown had previously been arrested.
Smith subsequently announced that kidnapping and capital murder charges would be filed against Stallworth and Brown.
“We can no longer assume that everyone is a part of the village that’s trying to raise the child,” Smith said. “We cannot take those things for granted. We must work incredibly hard to do more to save the children in this community. This young child has touched a nation. This child has definitely sent a message across the nation that we all must be diligent to protect them all.”
Oct. 23- The remains found in the Center Point dumpster are positively identified as McKinney. The announcement was made by Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates Wednesday, who cothe remains were recovered at 5:16 p.m. the day before during a search at the Santek Waste Services Landfill in Gardendale.
That night, the city of Birmingham hosts a vigil for McKinney at Linn Park.
Oct. 24- Stallworth and Brown are charged with McKinney’s death. Both are charged with capital murder and taken to the Birmingham Jail to await their first court appearance.
Oct. 25- In a warrant read during Stallworth and Brown’s first court appearance, medical examiners believe McKinney died by asphyxiation.
During the hearing, Stallworth publicly maintained his innocence.
“I don’t know why I’m being charged with the murder of this child,” Stallworth said to Judge Clyde Jones.
Oct. 30- An online petition is started to create cameras in the Tom Brown Village area that would continuously monitor the community. The idea is met with some resistance by Birmingham residents, including Councilor Hunter Williams.
“I think we should be very cognizant of the fact that these housing communities are people’s homes and people’s neighborhoods, so we should not be federally mandating that there be cameras in certain people’s neighborhoods,” Williams said.
Dec. 10- During a court appearance, it is concluded there is enough evidence to send the case against Stallworth to a grand jury.
In the hearing, prosecutors lay out their timeline for how they believed he and Brown kidnapped McKinney and how she ultimately died. In addition, a report cites meth and the sedative Trazadone that were found in McKinney’s system, as well as a mixture of her blood and DNA that was found on a mattress at the apartment the suspects were staying in when they were arrested.
Dec. 13- During a court hearing for Brown, investigators state that Brown had told them that he saw her sexually assault McKinney prior to her death.
In his final statements in the hearing, Judge Clyde Jones said it was clear Brown and Stallworth had worked together to kidnap McKinney and that one or both of them had caused her death. The case against Brown is subsequently moved to a grand jury.
“It’s rough,” Thomas said. “I have good days, I have bad days. But it’ll never be the same. I can’t wake up to her smiling at me or waking me up with her hugs or kisses. It’s rough.”
Thomas went on to say that she hopes no one else has to go through what her family went through.
“What are we going to do to prevent this from happening?” Thomas said. “While the gifts are nice, it still doesn’t [make] our community better. I would rather see more events towards trying to push things to be better. Enough is enough.”
July 29- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama announces Stallworth and Brown had been indicted on federal charges of kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap a minor victim.
“The kidnapping of a child is one of a parent’s biggest fears,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd C. Peeples said in a written statement. “Despite their best efforts, federal, state, and local law enforcement were not able to bring the 3-year-old victim home to her family. However, we hope that today’s charges will be a step towards bringing justice for her and her family.”
Both Stallworth and Brown subsequently pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.