BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Alabama man and woman accused of abducting, sexually assaulting and suffocating 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney in October 2019 were indicted Wednesday on federal kidnapping charges.
Patrick Devone Stallworth, 40, and Derick Irisha Brown, 29, both of Center Point, are each charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap the girl, who vanished Oct. 12, 2019, as she played outside a birthday party in the Tom Brown Village public housing complex in Birmingham.
The case brought together the Birmingham community as, for 10 days, local, state and federal law enforcement officials scoured the city for the girl whose smiling face and braids captured the attention of people across the U.S.
The community also mourned en masse when Cupcake’s remains were found Oct. 22 in a dumpster at an Alabama landfill.
The toddler’s autopsy showed she had been suffocated. Toxic levels of trazadone, a sedative, and methamphetamine were found in her system.
If convicted of the federal charges, Stallworth and Brown face a possible death penalty. The minimum sentence on the charges is life in prison.
“The kidnapping of a child is one of a parent’s biggest fears.” First Assistant United States Attorney Lloyd C. Peeples said in a news release. “Despite their best efforts, federal, state and local law enforcement were not able to bring the 3-year old victim home to her family. However, we hope that today’s charges will be a step towards bringing justice for her and her family.”
Read the federal indictment against Patrick Stallworth below. Derick Brown faces identical charges.
Stallworth and Brown already faced the death penalty on state charges of capital murder. The defendants have each blamed the other for Cupcake’s abduction and killing.
Stallworth’s DNA was found under the toddler’s fingernails, indicating she fought for her life as she was suffocated. Stallworth had scratches on his chest while in police custody in the days following Cupcake’s disappearance.
Cupcake’s DNA, along with that of Stallworth and Brown, was found on a bloodstained plastic cover taken from a mattress in the couple’s home at the Woodside Condominiums in Center Point, a city about 12 miles from where the girl was abducted.
Editor’s note: The following details of Kamille McKinney’s death are graphic and may be difficult for some readers.
A brazen abduction
Cupcake was playing outside with another child around 7:25 p.m. Oct. 12 when footage from a nearby security camera recorded a man approaching the children. He appeared to speak to them for a moment before walking off down the street, the children following along behind him.
That was the last moment Cupcake was seen alive.
Stallworth and Brown were taken into custody in connection with the girl’s disappearance the following day after police released images of a person of interest, as well as photos of a blue Toyota Sequoia, taken from a nearby Shell gas station and convenience store.
Authorities said tipsters who saw the images identified the man in the photos as Stallworth.
An SUV matching the one in the photos was seized from the parking lot of the couple’s condominium complex, according to police. It belongs to Brown, AL.com reported.
In chilling testimony at Stallworth’s Dec. 10 preliminary hearing, Birmingham police Detective Jonathan Ross told the court that surveillance footage from the Shell station showed Stallworth buy $18.91 worth of candy more than seven hours before Cupcake’s abduction.
Five minutes later, two preteen girls were leaving their Saturday cheerleading practice at Haynes K-8 School when they were approached by the blue Sequoia.
“I’m looking for a girl that looks like you,” a man later identified by police as Stallworth told one girl.
The girl was 11 years old, AL.com reported.
Stallworth offered the girls candy, but they grew nervous, Ross testified. The second girl said, “Let’s go,” and they walked away.
The detective testified that security footage from the school backs up the girls’ statements, though the camera was not close enough for police to identify the occupants of the SUV.
The girls’ description of the woman with Stallworth matches that of Brown.
Children at Tom Brown Village later told investigators that a man in an SUV was handing out candy around the housing development that evening. At least one child witnessed Cupcake’s abduction.
“She was crying,” a 10-year-old boy told police, according to Ross.
It was the statements from the young cheerleaders that led investigators to canvass the neighborhood around Tom Brown Village, leading them to find footage at the Shell of Stallworth and the blue SUV the children described, the detective said.
Footage from a Chevron gas station the night of Cupcake’s abduction indicated that at some point after the couple went home with the toddler, Stallworth went back out and bought an energy drink and a pill for “sexual dysfunction,” Ross said Dec. 10, according to AL.com.
Ross testified at Brown’s Dec. 13 preliminary hearing that Brown, who was interviewed by investigators three times, at first denied any knowledge of Cupcake’s abduction or death, the news site reported. Following her Oct. 13 arrest, Brown remained jailed in connection with kidnapping allegations from 2018.
In that case, police allege Brown kidnapped her own three children at gunpoint after they were taken from her custody and placed with a relative. The children had been removed because Brown was suspected of placing the children inside a clothes dryer as punishment.
She is charged with felony attempting to elude officers and second-degree assault in that case.
Stallworth is also charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography and possession with the intent to disseminate child pornography. The images, found on his cellphone during the search for Cupcake, were not of the missing girl, AL.com reported.
Stallworth was initially allowed to post bail on the child porn charges but was rearrested when Cupcake’s body was found.
WBRC in Birmingham reported that a Birmingham police detective testified at Brown’s hearing that after repeatedly denying involvement in Cupcake’s disappearance, Brown eventually told investigators she and Stallworth were at their home at the Woodside Condominiums in Center Point the night of Oct. 12 when she went outside to smoke, then took a pill and fell asleep.
When she awoke, Brown alleged she found Stallworth sexually abusing the toddler. According to AL.com, Brown said Stallworth forced Cupcake to perform oral sex on him.
It was eventually Brown who told authorities where the girl’s remains could be found.
Brown said that despite being with Stallworth at Tom Brown Village on Oct. 12, she did not know he had taken the toddler until they stopped at a convenience store. It was not clear how Brown said she learned the girl was in her SUV.
Surveillance footage from the Jet Pep where the couple stopped showed a seemingly unfazed Brown go inside to pay for gas and buy a soda, the detective said.
“She seemed fine to me,” Ross testified about the footage, AL.com reported. “She’s walking fine. Seemed normal.”
Brown told detectives she and Stallworth went home after the stop at the store. It is at that point that her story diverges from the one given to police by Stallworth.
‘That’s not your child’
ABC 33/40 in Birmingham reported that testimony from Stallworth’s Dec. 10 hearing indicated he told police he was not aware of Cupcake’s presence until he walked into his and Brown’s condo that night and saw Brown sitting on the sofa with the girl.
“That’s not your child,” Stallworth said he told her.
“I want to keep her,” Brown replied, according to Stallworth.
Stallworth told police Brown suggested he “do something sexual to the child,” Ross testified, AL.com reported. Stallworth said he refused and went outside to smoke a cigarette.
Later, “Brown put her hands over Cupcake’s nose and mouth,” Stallworth told investigators. He said the girl was then “asleep,” according to the news site.
Ross testified that Stallworth told him Brown gave the girl a bath at some point after removing her clothes and hair bows. He told the detective when he awoke the next morning, Brown was with him in bed.
It was unclear where Cupcake was at that point in Stallworth’s story.
Brown told police, however, that she was the one who went outside to smoke when they got home the night of the abduction, AL.com reported. She said she went back inside and into the bathroom, where she found Stallworth.
She alleged that she saw a “shadow” pass by the door and “thought she was tripping,” Ross testified.
Brown told investigators she had used trazadone that day, as well as methamphetamine. The prescription drugs, which were the same as those found in Cupcake’s system during her autopsy, came from a bottle belonging to Stallworth.
AL.com reported that Brown told investigators she went to bed and fell asleep but awoke at some point during the night to find Cupcake sitting on the sofa. She said Stallworth was kneeling in front of the girl, forcing her to perform oral sex.
Brown told detectives she went back to sleep and awoke the following day. When she asked about Cupcake, Stallworth told her, “You have been tripping,” she told detectives.
Stallworth left the condo with a trash bag after asking her about their canister of lighter fluid, Brown told investigators. She said she told him they’d left it behind at their previous apartment.
“Her boyfriend put the baby in a trash bin with old furniture,” Ross testified.
Brown said Cupcake was disposed of in a dumpster at an adjacent apartment complex, AL.com said.
Cellphone records for Stallworth’s phone showed a flurry of seven calls to his mother after 10:39 p.m., when an Amber Alert was issued for Cupcake, the news site reported.
The records also showed “a lot of movement” between the couple’s condo and the adjacent Parkway Villa apartments, which are accessible to one another via a pathway through a wooded area.
It was a construction dumpster from the largely vacant Parkway Villa in which Cupcake’s remains were found by FBI agents Oct. 22.