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Columbus dad charged in death of 2-year-old Emma Sweet

Emma Sweet's body was pulled from the White River in Bartholomew County days after hunters discovered her father's truck submerged in the water.

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. — A father is now facing charges in his daughter's death after her body was pulled from the White River in Bartholomew County Sunday.

Jeremy Sweet, 39, had been on a 72-hour hold as police investigated the incident. He was already awaiting trial on two other cases for possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He was out on bond when his truck was found submerged in the White River Friday, Nov. 26.

Wednesday, the prosecutor's office formally filed charges against Sweet for neglect of a dependent resulting in death and unlawful possession of a syringe. Sweet is being held on $1.2 million bond. 

“Again, I want to reiterate that in my 30 years in law enforcement, I have never seen such cooperation in an investigation,” said Sheriff Matt Myers. “I would like to thank our BCSO Detectives who have spent countless hours on this investigation.”

Credit: Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office
Emma Sweet

Sweet's wife, reported him and their daughter, Emma, missing on Thursday, Nov. 25 after they hadn't been seen since the previous afternoon.

On Friday, Nov. 26, a group of hunters saw Sweet in the back of his truck that was submerged in the river. They helped him to shore. At the time, he did not mention anything about anyone else in the truck.

When police asked Sweet where Emma was, he gave conflicting stories — initially saying he had dropped her off at Casey's, then later saying he had unbuckled her from her car seat after his truck went into the river. Paramedics on the scene found a syringe and an empty baggie with the corner cut on Sweet, according to the probable cause affidavit.

RELATED: Missing 2-year-old's body recovered from Indiana river; father on 72-hour hold during investigation

Sweet was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for treatment. There, he told a detective he got lost after making a wrong turn, and when he drove up onto an embankment, his truck got stuck. When he was trying to free it, he said it went too far forward and into the water.

Credit: Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department
Jeremy Wayne Sweet, 39, of Columbus.

Court documents say Sweet told a detective he put Emma on the roof or hood of the truck, then held her for a while before later waking up and she was gone.

Police spoke with a woman who said she last saw Sweet on Wednesday, Nov. 24. When police later asked Sweet about this, he admitted to using meth and marijuana before going to the casino in Shelbyville on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Preliminary findings from Emma's autopsy report could not determine if hypothermia or drowning was the cause of her death. 

On Dec. 4, Emma's family and friends remembered her at a memorial service, speaking of her love of going to daycare as well as pageants and modeling.

RELATED: 'We are heartbroken': Pageant community mourns death of Emma Sweet

Jeremy Sweet had his initial hearing Dec. 2 and was given a public defender. His trial date was tentatively set for May.

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