LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -Savannah Vincent was just five years old, when she died of injuries allegedly caused by her father and step-mom. Now more than a year a later, some think the legal process has stalled. Family members want answers and justice.
Vincent was the little kindergartner from Sulphur who died in a Lafayette hospital after being brought there with severe head injuries. That was June 2008, and while her father and step mother were arrested, so far no formal charges have been filed.
Savannah's great grand parents Glen and Clara Vaughan and her mother Amber Vincent want to know why. Says Amber, "I want her to know how much we care about her and I feel like that we're all letting her down by not getting her done."
Says Glen Vaughan, "She was neglected, mistreated as a baby. Now even in death we can't find out what happened to her. We don't even have a death certificate." His wife Clara says, "The doctors in Lafayette said it was hit in the head. And nobody can tell us anything. The baby's in her grave and she's still laying there and they're out walking around Scott free and I don't 'think it's right."
But Calcasieu Coroner Dr. Terry Welke explains they must be sure of the facts before moving forward. He expects the manner of death to be resolved soon. "When I make a determination as far as the manner of death I have to be 100% especially in a homicide because someone or other individuals may wind up going through the rigors of a trial. So, when I make my decision I stand firm and then I am willing to defend that in court. The investigation is ongoing."
Meanwhile, Savannah's family lives with the heart ache of losing a child. Says Clara, "I hope they'll get 'em and send 'em away for life." Glen chokes back tears saying, "Oh, she meant everything in the world."
Her little half brother was born just a week or so after she died. And they feel they owe it to Savannah to seek justice. Amber says tearfully, "I feel like I'm not a good mom sometimes. I feel like I'm letting her down."
Savannah would have turned seven years old in July. In June 2008 the sheriff's office arrested Savannah Vincent's dad William Vincent and step-mom Barbara Vincent and booked them for second degree cruelty to a juvenile. But formal charges are on hold until the District Attorney receives the official confirmation of how savannah died.
In Louisiana there are five manners of death: natural, accident, homicide, suicide or undetermined.