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11-month-old Indiana girl found dead; suspect and parents charged

The man who had been watching Mercedes Lain, 37-year-old Justin Lee Miller, is being charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

PLYMOUTH, Ind. — A statewide Silver Alert was canceled Thursday morning for 11-month-old Mercedes Lain of Plymouth, Indiana.

Police say the girl was found dead in a remote, wooded area in Starke County. The man who had been watching Mercedes, 37-year-old Justin Lee Miller, is being charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. He could face 20 to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Credit: Marshall County Sheriff's Office
Justin Miller

When the Silver Alert went into effect, police said Mercedes was last seen in Plymouth with Miller on Aug. 12.

Tuesday, the FBI said the baby was last seen Saturday, Aug. 14 at 12:30 a.m. in Mishawaka, Indiana. She was wearing a white onesie with pink trim. Officials said that is the day they believe she died. They said it is hard to establish an exact timeline due to alleged drug use by Miller.

The FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team also assisted with the case.

Credit: Plymouth Police Department
Mercedes Lain, 11 months old.

Plymouth Police Chief David Bacon said Miller was a family relative of the Lains and because they gave him Mercedes to watch, there was no abduction to issue an Amber Alert. Police did say the Silver Alert assisted in finding Miller and his car.

Miller was located Monday morning and after being questioned multiple times, police said he helped lead them to Mercedes' body Wednesday night.

Mercedes' mother and father, Tiffany Coburn and Kenneth Lain, are also being held on a charge of neglect of a dependent for the circumstances of letting Miller watch their baby. 

Credit: Marshall County Sheriff's Office
Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn

Police said Mercedes had been seen in Starke, Marshall and St. Joseph counties after she was given to Miller to watch.

The family on Tuesday had pleaded for Mercedes to be brought home safely.

"We're just asking, if anyone knows anything or if you have her, please bring her home," said Angela Owens, Mercedes' grandmother.

Police are waiting on results of the autopsy on Mercedes and said additional charges could be added.

Miller and Mercedes' parents are expected to have an initial hearing on Aug. 20.

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