Couple jailed in connection with toddler’s remains found at Delaware softball field last year

Couple jailed in connection with toddler’s remains found at softball field

SMYRNA, Del. — She became known as Baby Elle, a name given to her by law enforcement officials who pulled her remains from the dirt at a Delaware softball field in September 2019.

Police officials on Thursday identified Jane Smyrna Doe 2019 as Emma Grace Cole, who was 3 years old when she died. Two “persons of interest” have been arrested in Pennsylvania: Kristie Haas, 28, and her husband, Brandon Haas, 38, both formerly of Smyrna.

Kristie Haas is the girl’s mother, according to the Delaware News Journal.

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When the child’s remains were found by a dogwalker on Sept. 13, 2019, Kristie and Brandon Haas lived in a home about a mile from the Little Lass softball fields. The News Journal reported that the fields, which sit across from Smyrna Middle School, serve Little League girls in the area.

Delaware court records show Brandon and Kristie Haas were evicted from their home in October 2019.

Baby Elle had been dead “for several weeks or possibly longer” when her remains were found, authorities said.

The remains of 3-year-old Emma Grace Cole were found Sept. 13, 2019, along the tree line behind this softball field, pictured in a September 2019 Street View image, at the Little Lass fields in Smyrna, Del.
The remains of 3-year-old Emma Grace Cole were found Sept. 13, 2019, along the tree line behind this softball field, pictured in a September 2019 Street View image, at the Little Lass fields in Smyrna, Del. (Google)

Online records show that Haas and her husband were jailed at the George Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The News Journal reported that they were being held for possible charges out of Delaware.

Bail for each had been set at $1 million, the newspaper reported. Records show Brandon Haas had been released as of Monday.

Kristie Haas remained in custody, the records indicated.

Court records show that 3-year-old Emma Cole lived at this home in Smyrna, Del., pictured in an April 2012 Street View image, with her mother and stepfather at the time of her death. The toddler's remains were found Sept. 13, 2019, at a softball field about a mile from the home.
Court records show that 3-year-old Emma Cole lived at this home in Smyrna, Del., pictured in an April 2012 Street View image, with her mother and stepfather at the time of her death. The toddler's remains were found Sept. 13, 2019, at a softball field about a mile from the home. (Google)

After the child’s remains were found last fall, Smyrna police detectives began working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, whose forensic artists created two facial reconstructions of the girl. One reconstruction used 3D modeling software that sculpted an image from a CT scan of the skeletal remains.

The second image was created in Adobe Photoshop using photos of the child’s remains provided by the medical examiner, the center said.

The police investigation “revealed that the child was female, Caucasian or Hispanic, and likely between the ages of 2 and 5 years old,” authorities said last November, when the images were first released. “The child had slightly wavy brown hair. An anthropological exam of her remains suggests that she suffered from chronic illness(es).”

The nature of those illnesses was unclear. The child’s cause of death has not been released.

Indiana court records show a battle in 2016 and 2017 over custody of Emma. In September 2016, she was placed in the custody of a family member, Tanya Rene Stroud.

On Friday, Stroud posted a photo of herself with Emma on her Facebook page.

“I love you so much, Emma Grace,” Stroud wrote. “I promise you, we will get justice for you, baby girl.”

According to their own Facebook profiles, Brandon and Kristie Haas married in May 2017. Photos on their pages show several children.

Emma appears to be the youngest of the girls. Brandon Haas is not her biological father, according to court records.

In a March 2018 post, Kristie Haas praised her husband for his hard work caring for the family.

“You wake up early morning before the sun come up to provide for me and the kids (which you don’t have to do),” she wrote. “You took in the kids and love them as your (own.) They all look forward to when (their) Dada comes home.”

Brandon Haas responded that his wife and the children make him who he is.

It was not immediately clear where the other children were following the couple’s arrests.

The public response to the news of Emma’s death was one of outrage.

“Seriously, I never in a million years thought you were capable of doing something so horrendous,” a friend wrote on Brandon Haas' Facebook page. “RIP to that beautiful angel, and I hope you two get punished to the maximum sentence.”