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Couple charged with murder of 4-year-old girl; disturbing details uncovered

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A mother and her fiancé were charged in court with felony murder in connection with the death of the woman's 4-year-old daughter. Kelly Ballinger, 33, and Matthew Longenecker, 34, were arraigned on Murder and first-degree child abuse charges in Kalamazoo County District Court Tuesday.

Both charges are felonies punishable by up to life in prison. The judge denied bond for both suspects.

On July 9, shortly before 5 a.m., the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety was called to a home on Mount Olivet Road on a report of a child not breathing.

First responders tried CPR on 4-year-old girl for more than 50 minutes before she was pronounced dead. Investigators said that young girl’s body had a number of bruises and lacerations and the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

Investigators learned the victim, identified by Immediate family members as “Deseray” had been getting restrained at night for the last two weeks.

“The restraining Included wrapping the victim to form a makeshift swaddle. The victim would then have duct tape wrapped around her entire body, numerous times the victim’s face would be covered,” said Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Detective Sheila Goodell.

Goodell testified, at times, Deseray was sent to bed and unable to move until she was unwrapped the following day. On July 9, Goodell said the victim was found with her head still covered and she had trouble breathing.

Investigators say both Kelly Ballinger and Matthew Longenecker admitted to doing this, and detectives also found text messages on the couple's cell phones that corroborated the evidence.

Two other children in the home were taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services.

Ballinger and Longenecker are scheduled to be back in court Aug. 1 for preliminary examinations.

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