Mother, man charged in toddler's beating death

Patience Kuhlman
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Ray Cortopassi/Eyewitness News

Clinton County - Two Frankfort residents are facing murder charges in connection with a young child's death.

The Clinton County prosecutor formally charged Patience A. Kuhlman, 29, and Mitchell Adam Clendenning, 30, in the death of Kuhlman's daughter Keaton Kuhlman, who was two and a half years old.

Keaton Kuhlman died Thursday, July 23rd at Riley Hospital for Children. Police say she died from blunt force trauma.

"The prosecutor's office has presented formal charges of murder and neglect against two people. The investigation itself is still ongoing. We're still interviewing and following up on leads," said Major Jeff Ward, Frankfort Police Department.

The case first came to the attention of authorities last week, when the toddler was brought to St. Vincent Hospital in Frankfort with blunt force trauma, injuries so severe that she needed to be flown to Riley Hospital, where her life ended.

For neighbors who rarely saw the couple, there didn't seem to be clues to pick up on.

"Heard them cry sometimes, when they were out playing. Kids fall. We never really thought anything of it," said Valerie Scott, a neighbor.

For the community and investigators, it all represents a jolt to which they're unaccustomed. Frankfort hasn't seen a homicide in nearly a decade.

"This whole thing is very traumatic and terrible. It's heartbreaking for everybody in this investigation, and the community because we're dealing with a two-and-a-half-year-old child," said Major Ward.

"I have no tolerance for somebody that hurts children. I don't see the need or the purpose," said Scott.

Kuhlman and Clendenning face charges of murder and neglect of a dependent. Both appeared in court Wednesday morning, where they pleaded not guilty.