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Daniel Callihan Arrest: Suspect in Louisiana mother and daughter murder arrested and second child found alive, authorities say

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office

Kidnapping and murder suspect Daniel Callihan was arrested Thursday in Jackson, Mississippi.



CNN

A Louisiana man arrested in connection with the killing of a woman and her young daughter is believed to have had an accomplice, Jackson police said Friday.

The suspect, 36-year-old Daniel Callihan, was arrested Thursday after a 35-year-old mother was found dead and her two kidnapped daughters were later discovered in Mississippi — one dead, the other alive — in what investigators say may be a case of human trafficking. Callihan's alleged accomplice, 32-year-old Victoria Cox, was arrested Friday at a south Jackson motel, Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade said.

Callihan is accused of “committing brutal and heinous acts of violence,” including the killing of Callie Brunett and her four-year-old daughter, the sheriff's office in Tangipahoa Parish, north of New Orleans, said.

Cox is being questioned and police say they are trying to determine her exact role in the incident. “Based on the information I received yesterday and early this morning, she is an acquaintance and possibly the girlfriend of Mr. Callihan,” Wade said.

Jackson investigators said the wooded area where the girls were found had signs that the site may have been used for human trafficking, such as small animal cages.

“Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragic event. These are unspeakable crimes,” said Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards in a social media post. “We ask everyone to keep Callie's family in their prayers.”

An Amber Alert was issued early Thursday for Brunett's abducted daughters, ages 4 and 6, after the mother was found dead in her home, according to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Jimmy Travis.

After hours of searching, law enforcement in Jackson, Mississippi – about a two-hour drive from Tangipahoa – were able to track down the suspect and find a “tragic scene,” Wade said.

After a brief chase, Callihan was arrested in a wooded area near a house and the four-year-old's body was found unburied in the woods behind the house, Wade said. The other sister was found injured and taken to a hospital.

“For me as a police chief and a father, it is very, very disturbing to witness what I just saw,” Wade said of the scene.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death, Wade said Friday.

Because of indications that “human trafficking was occurring” at the location, Jackson authorities contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and Hinds County human trafficking units, Wade said.

“We will examine this crime scene with a scalpel,” he said. “The investigation will take a long time.”

Many questions remain unanswered, Wade said, including why Callihan allegedly brought the children to Jackson and why the child was killed.

Although Callihan had not been interviewed as of Thursday night, investigators believe the suspect lives in Louisiana and has dated Brunett “off and on,” Travis said. When the Amber alert was issued Thursday, it said a man later identified as Callihan was “wanted for questioning regarding a domestic violence incident that occurred at the time of the abduction and resulted in a homicide.”

Investigators' top priority will be to question Callihan and care for the surviving 6-year-old victim, Travis said.

“She went through something that most of us will hopefully never experience. And she will have to live with it for the rest of her life,” the chief said.

Police said Cox was cooperative during her arrest and will be held accountable for her actions in this “horrific incident.”

“She could potentially be charged with capital crimes or accessory after the fact or accessory after the fact,” Wade said. “We need to get justice for the loss of this child.”

CNN has reached out to Jackson Police and the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office for more information.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched “out of loving support for the Brunett family during a time of unimaginable suffering” to raise money for the funeral expenses of Brunett and her four-year-old daughter and to help the family and surviving child cope with the tragedy.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Daniel Callihan's last name.