Pekin woman now facing murder and aggravated battery charges in death of toddler

PEKIN – The investigation into the tragic death of a Pekin girl is ongoing. The child, two-year-old Misty Ann Lynn McDowell, died on Tuesday morning after being rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Salem by local emergency personnel.  

Misty Ann Lynn McDowell

On Tuesday afternoon, an autopsy was conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. James Jacobi. The official cause of death was listed as homicide by multiple blunt force injuries.    

Sarah Bierly

On Wednesday, ISP detective Travis Baker met again with Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin concerning the case. As a result of the investigation and findings in the case, the Washington County Prosecutor has added the following charges in the arrest of 30-year-old Sarah Bierly on felony charges of murder and aggravated battery resulting in death.

Bierly is facing an original felony charge of neglect of a dependent causing death.

“This case will require our best. Thankfully, our office has the experience, training, and determination necessary to meet this moment. We will see that justice is served in this case,” said IWashington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin.

Bierly was arrested when Washington County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to Poplar Street in Peking after dispatch received a 911 call around midnight on Tuesday morning. The caller reported there was an unresponsive child at the home.

Washington County EMS immediately transported 2-year-old McDowell to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Salem after deputies and emergency medical personnel arrived. Tragically, Misty was pronounced deceased by the Washington County Coroner after arriving at the hospital.  

Sheriff Brent Miller requested ISP assistance, and Detective Travis Baker and Crime Scene Investigator Phil D’Angelo responded to the Pekin address scene.   

As part of the investigation, officers obtained a search warrant for the residence as Detective Travis Baker spoke with Bierly, the live-in-girlfriend of the child’s father, as well as other family members at the scene.  

The investigation continued at the Washington County Jail, where Detective Baker later arrested Bierly on a charge of neglect of a dependent causing death.     

The Indian State Police were assisted by officers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Pekin Town Marshall, Washington County EMS, Pierce-Polk Township first-responders, the Washington County Coroner’s Office, and the Washington County Prosecutor.

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