FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Formal charges were filed Monday against 36-year-old Jenna Miller, the biological mother of Elijah Ross, the 9-year-old boy beaten to death a week before Christmas.
Miller was charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death and two counts of neglect of a dependent that endangers the child.
The first two charges are level 1 felonies that carry a sentence of up to 40 years with the range between 20 and 40 years.
Miller is being held at the Allen County Jail in lieu of $55,000 bond. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Thursday, court documents said.
Miller was not charged with beating the Franke Park elementary third grader on Dec. 17 until he took his last breath early Dec. 18, but she was there, returning home from a Christmas party with her spouse, Alesha “Hood” Miller.
Elijah and an older brother were allegedly having a fight, according to Alesha Miller, charged Wednesday, Dec. 22, with aggravated battery resulting in death and neglect of a dependent resulting in death with two more counts of neglect of a dependent.
Elijah had two older brothers.
In a probable cause affidavit written by homicide detective Aaron Johnson, Jenna Miller was interviewed Tuesday at Parkview Behavioral Hospital, two days after she and Alesha Miller loaded Elijah into their maroon 2010 Jeep Compass and took him to Lutheran Hospital downtown.
A valet parker reported that he picked up Elijah up to carry him inside the hospital, reporting that “the child was cold, limp and liver mortis and rigor mortis was starting to settle into his body,” medical staff said.
Elijah was covered in bruises on his face, arms, his lower back and buttocks area. “There were also multiple bruises and swelling on his shoulders along with abrasions….a small cut/laceration at the base of the victim’s penis appeared to be recent,” court documents said.
Jenna Miller told homicide detective Scott Tegtmeyer that “Alesha,” whom the boys had to call “dad,” was the “one who continuously kept whooping the victim.”
During the beatings, Elijah was “screaming, please stop,” court documents said.
When the two returned home from the party around 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Jenna Miller said Alesha held Elijah down with her legs and hit him multiple times. When Elijah “went limp,” they thought he was “playing dead,” court documents said.
The whoopings would start and stop and Jenna Miller gave Alesha’s motivation: “She can’t stop because he wants her dead.”
Alesha was whooping Elijah with a wooden sorority-style paddle that was broken, but she also wasn’t sure if she beat him with the paddle or with her hands.
One brother said “Dad” was known to choke-slam Elijah where the slight boy would “ball up” on the floor when “Dad” slammed him and he’d hit his head on the floor, court documents said.
The two panicked when he stopped breathing and attempted to revive him by splashing water on him, the women said. Jenna Miller said they drove him to the hospital because they’d could get him to the hospital quicker than calling 9-1-1.
The brother who witnessed the beatings and subsequent attempts to revive his younger brother said Alesha Miller told his mother if she called the police, they’d both be arrested and they “didn’t want to go to jail.”
Just before he died, while being held in the shower, Jenna Miller said her son squeezed her arm and uttered one word. “Mommy.”