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Trailer park babysitter who bludgeoned a nine-year-old girl to death before dismembering her sentenced to life in prison
* Michael Plumadore, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, bludgeoned Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon to death
* 'Put body in his trailer park freezer and later dismembered it with hacksaw'
* Sentenced to life without parole, spared the death penalty
Judge adds 36 years to sentence, calling case the 'worst of the worst'
A career criminal who admitted to fatally bludgeoning and dismembering a 9-year-old girl he was baby-sitting just days
before Christmas was sentenced today to life in prison.
Michael Plumadore, from Indiana, last month pleaded guilty to murder, abuse of a corpse and removing a dead
body from the scene in the December 22 death of Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon.
Prosecutors had considered the death penalty but agreed to life in prison without the possibility of parole in exchange for the guilty plea.
Calling the case the 'worst of the worst,' Allen Superior Court Judge Allen Surbeck accepted that plea deal Monday and added
an extra 36 years: three more years for abuse of a corpse; three years for moving her body;
and 30 years for the murder charge because Plumadore is a habitual offender.
Plumadore, who wore shackles and an orange-and-tan striped jumpsuit, expressed remorse for the girl's death during the hearing.
'I am sorry for the pain and sorrow I caused so many people. ... I'm truly sorry for the crime I committed and the
pain I caused,' Plumadore said. 'No one should be exposed to the things I have done.'
Plumadore met Aliahna after her mother, Tarah Souders, moved her three daughters to the rundown
trailer park where he lived to help take care of her dying father.
The park, which holds about two dozen homes, was teeming with convicted sex offenders,
and neighbors say Souders asked her father if any of them – including Plumadore – could be a threat to her children.
Her father assured her the children would be safe.
The day Aliahna died, Plumadore was looking after the third-grader and her 6-year-old sisters at his mobile
home because Souders was ill. Aliahna weighed just 41 pounds when she died.
At last month's hearing, Plumadore told the judge he killed Aliahna by repeatedly striking her in
the head with a brick. He said he then he cut her body up with a hacksaw.
'I put parts in my freezer and took the rest down to the Marathon station and put them in a Dumpster,' he said.
Police found the girl's head, hands and feet in the freezer at the mobile home where Plumadore
had lived with Aliahna's grandfather, who had died about three weeks earlier. The other remains
were thrown into trash bags and discarded at a gas station.
The other girls weren't harmed.
Aliahna's death drew scrutiny to her mother's decision to move to the trailer park and leave the girl in Plumadore's care.
Elizabeth Sepponen, a spokeswoman for the family, told Plumadore at the hearing that the family suffered not just
the pain of the murder, but the judgment of the community.
'My cousin Tarah will forever be judged,' she said. 'You have put a rift in Fort Wayne that I hope someday can be healed.'
Surbeck said the death penalty would have been justified because of the dismemberment and the victim's age, as well as Plumadore's criminal history.
Since 1992, Plumadore has criminal records in Florida and North Carolina, including convictions for trespassing and assault, and an Indiana conviction for forgery.
'Any time you have a case where your client could face the death penalty, the goal is to save his life,' said Plumadore's attorney, Anthony Churchward.
Prosecutor Karen Richards said Aliahna's family asked her not to seek the death penalty. She said she thought they needed finality.
'I can't think of a more horrific crime I've seen involving a more innocent victim. I think it transcends our entire community,' she said.
Aliahna's father, Dawayne Maroney of Centerville, Iowa, said he knew Plumadore through Ms Souders and had no reason to distrust him.
'I can't talk about it because I'm still coping with it. It's too hard to talk about,' he said at
the time his daughter was murdered. 'I had no reason to suspect anything.'
Aliahna's horrific end: girl, 9, bludgeoned to death by babysitter
A babysitter and trusted neighbour has confessed that he bludgeoned a nine-year-old girl to death with a
brick then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at a home where he was staying and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, US police say.
Allen County sheriff's investigators in Indiana said in an affidavit that Michael Plumadore, 39, admitted to killing Aliahna Lemmon last week.
According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death on the front steps of the home in the early hours of
the morning, he stuffed her body into rubbish bags and hid her in the freezer at the home in a rundown trailer park in Fort Wayne.
He said he later chopped up her body with a hacksaw and stuffed her remains into freezer bags.
Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna's head, feet and hands at the trailer and discarded her other remains at a nearby business.
Police obtained a warrant to search the trailer on Monday and found the body parts.
Authorities did not say why Plumadore killed the child, but Sheriff Ken Fries said investigators suspected Plumadore was involved
since soon after she was reported missing on Friday night.
Investigators questioned him on Friday and Saturday and he was arrested on Monday after being interviewed by detectives for several hours more.
Fries said his long police career told him that Plumadore's account of the girl's disappearance had too many inconsistencies.
"Things that were said in 29 years of doing this that just didn't make sense," Fries said during a Tuesday news conference. "We needed to get him to talk."
Fries said Plumadore was "factual" in talking with investigators, but he wouldn't describe Plumadore's demeanour.
A judge ordered Plumadore to be held without bail or bond at an initial hearing on Tuesday, sheriff's department spokesman Corporal
Jeremy Tinkel said. He has yet to be formally charged in Aliahna's death.
Mike McAlexander, the Allen County chief deputy prosecutor, wouldn't say whether anyone else was suspected of being involved and said "nothing has been ruled out".
Paulette Hair, 45, a former manager at the trailer park who lives at a nearby trailer park, said she never would have guessed Plumadore would kill a child.
"But you don't know a person, truly," she said.
"How could you live?" asked Hair. "How could you sit in that trailer, knowing what you did,
knowing what's in your household when everybody is out there in the cold and the rain praying to God that she comes home safely and you're sitting there?"
Aliahna was a student at Holland Elementary School, Fort Wayne school district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. She did not know what grade the girl was in.
"Obviously, this is a horrendous tragedy. For the school, this is devastating. Our teachers knew her, our principal knew her, she
had friends at the school. This is going to be a loss for everyone at the school," Stockman said.
Schools are currently closed for holiday break. Stockman expected extra counsellors will be made available when students
return on January 5, and the school will likely plan some sort of memorial, she said.
Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore for about one week because their mother, Tarah Souders, had been sick with the flu.
Plumadore told The Journal Gazette on Sunday that Aliahna disappeared from the home on Friday morning while he was sleeping after
having gone to a service station about 1.6 kilometres away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time.
Aliahna wasn't reported missing until Friday night. Plumadore said the younger girls told him their mother had picked her up
and he didn't realise until hours later that this wasn't true.
On Saturday, more than 100 emergency workers searched for Aliahna around the trailer park on the city's north side where
Aliahna and Plumadore lived. FBI agents were there on Monday.
A state website shows that 15 registered sex offenders live in the park that numbers about two dozen homes. Plumadore is
not on Indiana's registered sex offenders list. He has a criminal record in Florida and North Carolina that includes convictions for trespassing and assault.
Aliahna's step-grandfather, David Story, said that Plumadore had cared for Souders's ailing father until his
death from emphysema early this month and was living in that man's mobile home.
"He was a trusted family friend," Story said late on Monday, saying he was surprised by the arrest.
Richard Patee, 58, whose trailer is next to where Plumadore was living, said he didn't think it was odd that
Aliahna's mother had him watching the girls for an extended period.
"They had known each other for somewhere of three to four years, I know that, and he took care of their grandfather," Patee said.
"I didn't see any reason to question it at all. I talked with Mike on and off for the past two-and-a-half years and he never had a cross word."
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