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Stepmom charged in 10-year-old girl’s murder

GAS CITY, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — If you have children, you know they can be a handful.

But what could a 10-year-old girl do that was so egregious as to drive her stepmother to allegedly strangle her?

We talked with experts to better understand this awful tragedy and whether the woman showed any warning signs ahead of time.

“If anybody was going through this, what would be your first clue? You’d go look for the child. You wouldn’t act like you don’t care. I mean, I’m not saying anything too mean, but it just don’t make any sense,” next door neighbor Sunny Osborn says.

Nothing about the death of Skylea Carmack makes sense, especially to Osborn who says 34-year-old Amanda Carmack had seemed to be detached from the frantic search for the missing girl.

“Why wouldn’t she be out looking for her stepdaughter? What would happen if it was one of her kids? I’d be out looking. Even if it wasn’t my kid, I’d be out looking,” she says.

Carmack posted several times a week on her Facebook page, but never about the fact that Skylea was missing.

And the community that turned out in droves to search for the missing girl has now turned on Carmack, posting hateful messages all over her page including this one that says, “We spent hours looking for Skylea on Sunday while you sat and posted like everything is fine in your world. You are a disgusting monster and I am truly sickened to learn that you did this.”

From Carmack’s Facebook posts, it appears her husband was frequently out of town for work, leaving up to seven children in her care ranging from age 13 to about 3.

Carmack also posted several times about having depression and dealing with a child who’s a handful, saying, “I’m at the end of my rope with this one.”

Forensic psychologist Dr. Stephen Ross says being overwhelmed with a lack of sleep and support can come to a head.

“It’s not just one factor, it’s a confluence of many factors. You just don’t see one thing that says I’m going to kill you. And then you may end up psychotic, and then you’re out of touch, and then you do. You may end up killing your child,” he says.

“It is never okay to take your anger and frustration out on a child,” says Dee Szyndrowski from SCAN, or Stop Child Abuse and Neglect.

Szyndrowski says she can see how overwhelming taking care of up to seven children would be.

“I don’t disagree with her Facebook posts. My sadness is that she didn’t go get help for that. Or none of her friends on her Facebook page reached out for help for her,” she says.

She says one of the worst things to come from Carmack’s arrest and charges is that the rest of the children will have to deal with it for the rest of their lives.

Experts say if you are struggling, there is no shame in asking for help.

You can call your police department, fire department, or even 911.

Stop Child Abuse and Neglect also works with agencies in 34 counties.

Call 1-800-752-7116, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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