WELLS COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) The mother of a 3-year-old boy whose body was found burned in a woods in rural Wells County was sentenced Tuesday for a drug charge, in line with a plea deal that found her free of a high-level neglect count and five other felonies related to his death.
Breanna Arnold, the 23-year-old mother of Owen Collins, was sentenced Tuesday in Wells Circuit Court to 20 years in prison and two and a half years of probation for a single charge of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine. As part of the deal with the Wells County Prosecutor’s Office Arnold agreed to in late November, additional charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, neglect of a dependent, altering the scene of a death, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of justice were dropped.
The sentence was the maximum sentence possible under that plea deal.
Young Owen’s body was found Jan. 18, 2015, in a charred cardboard box in a wooded area. Police had been searching for him after he was reported missing.
”As soon as she found out her child her dead if she picked up the other one and ran out screaming saying, ‘call the police. Someone help me my child is dead.’ I don’t think she would have ever gotten charged,” Arnold’s attorney Nikos Nakos said.
Police said that Arnold, her boyfriend, 31-year-old Zachary S. Barnes, and a then-16-year-old Zachary Barker, were all “shooting dope” in their Normandy Drive home on two days before and into the morning. They reportedly told police that at one point, Arnold went into a back bedroom to check on Owen and his 6-year-old-brother, and found Owen dead.
Barnes told police that he suggested they get rid of the boy’s body.
At that point, Barnes and the teen told police they wrapped the child in plastic wrap and stuffed him into a dresser drawer. On Sunday morning, Barnes and Barker put Owen in a cardboard box and rode with a woman to Marion. The woman, who spoke to police later, said Barnes put a cardboard box into the back seat of her car. She said she did not know what was in the box.
The woman told police before they made it to Marion, the three stopped at a wooded area and Barnes and Barker set the box with Collins in it down, poured nail polish on it and set it on fire. The scene was some 12 miles from Owen’s home.
In Marion then, Barnes told his brother that Owen had gone missing. Joseph Barnes called the Wells County Sheriff’s Department and asked if any children had been reported missing, which set off a search for the boy.
Days later, Arnold and Barnes were charged. In June 2015, Barnes pleaded guilty to murdering Owen. He was sentenced 50 years.
Barker pleaded guilty in August 2015 to abuse of a corpse and dealing methamphetamine in a separate deal with prosecutors that dropped four additional charges against him. He was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.