- Associated Press - Thursday, January 22, 2015

BLUFFTON, Ind. (AP) - Prosecutors filed formal neglect charges and other counts Thursday against a northeastern Indiana couple in connection with the presumed death of the woman’s 3-year-old son.

The felony charges against Zachary Barnes, 30, and Breanna Arnold, 21, both of Bluffton, include neglect of a dependent resulting in death and two counts of neglect of a dependent. They also are charged with abuse of a corpse, obstruction of justice and altering the scene of death.

A boy’s body matching Owen’s description was found in a wooded area Sunday after the couple reported 3-year-old Owen Collins was missing. The body has not been positively identified by coroners, nor has a cause of death been determined. Toxicology results could take up to two weeks.

Arnold, Barnes and a 16-year-old were using methamphetamine Friday night before the boy’s death, court documents say.

Barnes said in an interview with detectives that Owen, one of Arnold’s two children, was found dead sometime Saturday morning as the three were “shooting dope” and that nobody in the home called police because they were scared, according to the documents.

Instead, the documents say the three encased the boy’s body in plastic wrap and put him in a drawer in the bedroom.

Barnes also said they would put “dope” in the children’s drinks so that they could “watch them have fun.”

In charging documents released by prosecutors, both Arnold and Barnes are accused of exposing Owen to methamphetamine, the chemicals used to make methamphetamine and the opportunity for him to obtain and ingest the drugs, which “resulted in the death” of the child.

Court documents say that at one point, the idea of “chopping him up and throwing him into the river” was discussed, but the two decided instead to put him in a cardboard box and take him to the wooded area.

Another woman who was unaware of the death drove Barnes and the youth to the wooded area, where Barnes doused the box with nail polish remover and set on it fire, according to the court documents.

The body was discovered Sunday after the woman initially unaware of the death led investigators to the wooded area where the box with the body was burned.

Arnold and Barnes both were being held on $300,000 bonds at the Wells County Jail in Bluffton. Jail records did not indicate whether either have an attorney.

The teen is being held at a juvenile detention center on one count of abuse of a corpse. The Associated Press does not typically identify juveniles accused of crimes.

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