GADSDEN, ALA. – The grandmother and step-mom of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin are currently in jail, both accused of forcing the girl to run for three hours straight until she had a seizure and later died.
According to police, 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard and 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, were punishing the girl for eating candy bars and then lying about it. They forced her to run around their double-wide trailer until she eventually collapsed. Her mother called 911 but Savannah would die days later at the hospital.
Her father was working overseas when he found out that his daughter was in the hospital and took eight flights to be with her. Four hours later, Savannah would be taken off the ventilator.
A state pathologist ruled Savannah’s death a homicide after finding she was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level at the time of her death, suffering from a condition common in marathon runners.
“Basically she was caused to undergo physical exertion to the point in time where she just got dehydrated and her electrolyte levels got to the point where she couldn’t survive life,” Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp said.
Both women were arrested and charged with murder, but as the investigation continues, those charges could be upgraded to capital murder as the investigation continues.
At Savannah’s school, her desk has been turned into a memorial where children have been leaving messages and hand-drawn pictures.
Yesterday afternoon, Jessica Hardin gave birth at a Gadsden hospital while under the guard of sheriff’s deputies.