Guilty plea for babysitter in toddler’s death

BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) The babysitter of a 3-year-old boy whose body was found burned in a woods in rural Wells County has admitted to abusing the toddler’s corpse and dealing methamphetamine.

Zachary Barker
Zachary Barker

Zachary Barker, 17, pleaded guilty inside a Wells County Courtroom Wednesday to abuse of a corpse and dealing methamphetamine in a deal with state prosecutors that drops four additional felonies he was charged with two months ago.

Barker won’t be sentenced until the case against young Owen Collins’ mother, Breanna Arnold, though, is flushed out.

It was January when Owen’s body was found by police, wrapped in plastic and tucked a cardboard box, charred from flames. In May, the Wells County Coroner said autopsy results showed that the toddler died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Investigators leaned on Arnold, her boyfriend, Zachary Barnes, and Barker, a then-16-year-old who had been with the couple and Owen. The trio told police were all “shooting dope” in their Normandy Drive home into the morning of Saturday, January 17 when Arnold went into the back bedroom to check on Owen and his 6-year-old-brother and found Owen dead.

Barnes was quickly charged with Owen’s death, and earlier this month, the 31-year-old was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Arnold, too, faces a slew of felonies in the case, including Class A neglect of a dependent resulting in death. She is awaiting trial.

A court in July ruled Barker would be tried as an adult, and prosecutors four days later charged him with six felonies. As part of his deal with prosecutors, it is likely his testimony will be used in Arnold’s case.

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