By Caitlin Ryan
The Highland County Press
An 18-year-old Highland County man has been charged with murder in the Aug. 12 death of his 5-year-old niece at a home in Jackson Township, according to Highland County Sheriff Ron Ward at a press conference presented by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins at the Highland County Justice Center on Monday morning.
The suspect has been identified as Matthew Kaleb Pierson, 18, whose last known address is the 897 Flat Run Road home where the victim’s body was discovered.
Pierson is the victim’s uncle.
As previously reported in the Highland County Press, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 transfer call from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office from a female reporting an unresponsive child at 897 Flat Run Road in Jackson Township, near the Adams County/Highland County line.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with the Hillsboro Fire and Rescue, were dispatched to the scene and arrived approximately 10 minutes later, where upon arrival they found a 5-year-old female in an attached garage of the residence deceased.
Ward stated that three adult males and one adult female, the victim’s grandmother, were on the scene when deputies and EMS personnel arrived. A 38-year-old male and an 18-year-old male were taken into custody.
“A short time ago, murder charges were filed against the 18-year-old,” Ward said.
“We believe we have an individual involved in her death.”
The 38-year-old male, who was not identified but was said to be the owner of the home, remains in custody.
Ward added that the murder charges could potentially be upgraded based on the findings in today’s preliminary autopsy report as well as the complete autopsy.
The body of the 5-year-old victim was found with “visible trauma,” Ward said.
“It’s evident her death was the result of a criminal act,” Ward said.
Ward said that the victim was in custody of her grandmother at the home on Flat Run Road, where her grandmother and uncle had been living for a short time. The victim’s body was discovered by the grandmother, who placed the 911 call. Details on whether the child had been missing and when she was last seen alive were not immediately released.
The scene was secured by deputies, and the Highland County Coroner’s Office was notified, as well as Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins, who responded to the scene.
Four search warrants were executed, Ward said, including real estate, bodily fluids and cell phones.
“Several pieces of evidence were seized from the property and will be submitted for further investigation,” Ward said.
Crime scene agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded to the scene to assist Highland County Sheriff’s detectives in processing the crime scene and have dispatched a team of crime scene investigators, according to Ward. The victim’s body has been transported to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office, where an autopsy is being conducted to determine cause, motive and means of death, Ward said.
“There’s a possibility additional people will be arrested.”