8-year-old found dead in U-Haul in South Dakota was reportedly zip-tied, beaten with hammer

8-year-old found dead in U-Haul in South Dakota was reportedly zip-tied, beaten with hammer

SPOKANE, Wash. (TCD) — Court documents allege a 29-year-old man and 33-year-old woman zip-tied the woman’s adopted daughter before the young girl died, then drove around with the body for several weeks.

Mandie Miller and Aleksandr Kurmoyarov were arrested in Mitchell, South Dakota, after they allegedly contacted the local coroner and said they were traveling with Miller’s daughter’s body. Mitchell Police found Miller and Kurmoyarov at a home “with a U-Haul tow behind trailer that they stated contained a coffin with Miller’s juvenile daughter’s body.”

Kurmoyarov reportedly told police the 8-year-old girl died “a little before Halloween 2022” in Airway Heights, Washington. Miller, on the other hand, said the girl died Sept. 10.

According to Mitchell Police, Kurmoyarov allegedly said neither he nor Miller contacted police or alerted authorities after the girl died because they “wanted to spend more time with her.”

They were initially arrested on a charge of failure to notify law enforcement of death of a child. On Dec. 15, Mitchell Police said Miller and Kurmoyarov were arrested on a warrant out of Spokane for homicide by abuse.

According to court documents, Miller and Kurmoyarov reportedly tried burying the girl, Meela Miller, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation “without any paperwork documenting her death.” A funeral director reportedly called Mitchell Police, who then contacted Airway Heights Police in Washington, where Miller, Kurmoyarov, and Meela lived.

On Dec. 15, a detective sergeant from the Airway Heights Police obtained a warrant to search Miller and Kurmoyarov’s house and found “multiple different sizes of zip ties, including cut zip ties, and an abundant amount of various air-freshener-type items throughout the residence.”

Investigators also reportedly located odor absorbers in Meela’s room.

The court document says a detective working the case got in contact with a man named Daniel Herrera, who had previously dated Mandie Miller and “considered himself to be Meela’s father.” Miller allegedly called him Nov. 16 and said, “Meela passed away.”

Miller reportedly told Herrera the girl had chest pains and she took her to the doctor, but they sent her home. According to the affidavit, Miller allegedly gave Meela a bath when they got home from the doctor, but then she “began vomiting pink vomit” and passed out. Miller said Meela choked on a strawberry milkshake.

Miller and Kurmoyarov reportedly called 911, but it took an hour for the ambulance to arrive. She reportedly performed CPR on Meela, but she died.

Herrera said Miller could be a “hot head with a temper,” but he did not think she would abuse Meela. The doctor who performed the autopsy said Meela looked like she had been dead for three weeks, not three months, but if she was in a cool, air-conditioned room, “it is possible she has been dead for three months, as the decomposition process would’ve slowed down.”

The affidavit says Meela weighed only 26 pounds and had marks on her wrists and ankles “consistent with being tied up or bound with something.”

Her manner of death was listed as homicide.

Kurmoyarov allegedly told police in South Dakota he slapped Meela “two times in the face the night she died, and that she may have broken toes due to Mandie smashing her feet with a hammer.”

Miller reportedly hit Meela with a hammer when she was “acting out.”

In another interview, he admitted to “having to tie Meela up and even had her zip-tied to a car seat the day she died from anywhere from four to six hours.”

Miller reportedly provided several conflicting stories to investigators, including about the day Meela died.

Miller and Kurmoyarov are both charged with homicide by abuse, criminal mistreatment, and unlawful imprisonment. Spokane County Jail records show they are each being held on $1 million bond.


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