SOUTH MILWAUKEE -- A South Milwaukee man and woman are charged in connection with the death of a 4-year-old child on Friday, Feb. 28. The accused are Jerome Millen, 22, and Christina Collado, 21, the child's mother. The pair face the following criminal counts:
- Physical abuse of a child, repeated acts causing death (Millen)
- Chronic neglect of a child - consequence is death (Collado)
The 4-year-old child is identified by family members as Autumn Horak.
According to the criminal complaint, first responders were dispatched to a home on Montana Avenue in South Milwaukee around 7 a.m. on Friday. When they arrived on the scene, they found a 4-year-old child that "was pulseless and not breathing." The child was wearing only a diaper -- and the first responders noted numerous bruises on the child's jaw, head, forearm, and sternum. The child also suffered "what appeared to be a human bite mark" and a burn injury. The child was pronounced deceased on the scene.
The complaint indicates prior to first responders arriving on the scene, Millen fled the house. But he was arrested a short while later. Police were familiar with Millen and knew he spent time with a friend. They located him at that friend's house -- and took him into custody.
Interviews of the suspects
Later on Friday, investigators spoke with Collado and Millen. When confronted with the child's numerous injuries, "Collado admitted that Jerome Millen Mr. was in fact abusing (the child)," the complaint says. She also admitted witnessing Millen bite the child on two separate occasions.
On the morning of Feb. 28, Collado indicated to authorities she "heard a loud banging sound." The complaint says she saw Millen forcibly trying to get the child to go to sleep and indicated that "he was going too far." Collado told police "if she properly protected (the child), (the child) would still be alive."
When investigators questioned Millen, they first told him the child was deceased. Millen responded, "so my life is over," the complaint says. Millen "admitted to covering (the child's) mouth multiple times" in an effort to get the child to sleep. The complaint also says Millen admitted "'if all the injuries caused (the child) to die, it's my fault, my fault' and further stated, 'if she suffocated, that is my responsibility and I killed that child.'"
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy on the child -- and made a preliminary ruling that the child's manner of death was homicide.
Millen and Collado are expected to make their initial appearances in Milwaukee County court on Tuesday, March 3.
CLICK HERE to access a fundraiser for the victim.