VERNAL, Utah, May 26, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Vernal police have confirmed the identity of a 3-year-old girl who died from suffocation in March. Her stepmother has confessed to the killing, charging documents say.
In a press conference Sunday morning, Vernal City Assistant Chief of Police Keith Campbell was asked to confirm the name of the child from her obituary; the deceased little girl has been identified as Arianna Rose Stout.
Court documents said 23-year-old Mckenley Jordan Yadon — who goes by the name Mckenley Stout, but who did not legally change her name after her marriage — told a Vernal Police officer she placed her hands and a blanket over the face of her stepdaughter and maintained pressure until the girl stopped struggling, the probable cause statement says.
“At 11:46 p.m. on March 14 of this year, Vernal Police officials were called to the scene, at 1536 W. 300 South, on a report of an unresponsive child.”
The toddler, identified in court papers as A.S., was not breathing, was cold to the touch, and was found to have signs of choking, including dark purple bruises. She was pronounced dead at the Ashley Regional Medical Center at 12:45 p.m.
The probable cause statement, filed by an officer of the Vernal Police Department, says Yadon and Arianna’s infant brother were the only ones in the home when the toddler suffered the fatal injuries.
An autopsy was performed on March 15. The Medical Examiner’s Office found the manner of death to be homicide and the cause of death to be “asphyxia due to smothering.”
“Post Miranda warning, Mckenley admitted to causing the death of A.S.,” the probable cause statement says.
The statement says Yadon/Stout admitted to smothering the child using a blanket, adding that she told investigators “she had been planning and thinking about doing this act for two or three days prior to March 14, 2019.”
Yadon/Stout was booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of:
- Murder, a first-degree felony
- Child abuse — infliction of serious physical injury intentionally, a second-degree felony
She is being held without bail, court documents say.
Campbell said Yadon/Stout has been interviewed extensively, but some details are not being released “to preserve a jury pool for the future when the case would actually go to court.” He said officials have to balance the release of information with the “potential to taint a jury pool.”
“I know it’s frustrating to some, but we try to eliminate a lot of the detail and hold that for a trial, so a person doesn’t get tried in the public, basically,” Campbell said.
One detail not being released is any motive for the murder that Yadon/Stout revealed to officials, he said.
Campbell said he believes Yadon/Stout has been the child’s stepmother for a couple of years. He added that the Division of Child and Family Services was called in following the activities by law enforcement on March 14, and have remained involved with the case.
He did not confirm how many siblings Arianna has.
“Arrangements were made for any other children to be placed in a safe environment throughout the course of the investigation,” Campbell said.
The toddler’s obituary states she has a sister and a brother.
Campbell said Yadon/Stout will likely make her first court appearance Tuesday.
Arianna’s obituary reads, in part:
Just before her 4th birthday, Arianna Rose Stout passed away. During her short time here on Earth, she touched many lives and was loved by all who met her.
Arianna was born May 19, 2015, with the most beautiful smile and bright red hair, our beloved shining, always smiling and giggling, playful, light of our lives and the star of our hearts, happy girl, she loved her family and animals.
Her dad and uncle Daniel made sure she played in the dirt and rode four wheelers, while at the same moment she was a put me in a dress let’s play tea party (girl).
Arianna joins her mother, Jessica Ortega, and great grandparents Martha and Harry Keser.