The last person to see 2-year-old Emma Sweet said the toddler appeared normal before leaving in her dad's pickup, according to court documents.
Not even an hour later, the day took a tragic turn when the truck rolled down an embankment and into a Bartholomew County river.
Duck hunters later found her father, Jeremy Sweet, inside the submerged truck. Medics found a syringe, records state.
There was no sign of Emma Sweet. An army of search crews from 14 law enforcement and state agencies a day later found her body downstream.
Jeremy Sweet has been formally charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and unlawful possession of a syringe – both felonies.
What happened to Emma Sweet?
Sheriff Matt Myers said the father gave two conflicting stories about what happened. Court records show his vague recount to police about what led up to her death, and what Bartholomew County investigators determined in the case.
Jeremy Sweet picked up his daughter from their home on Nov. 24 while his wife went to work.
He dropped off his friend at work around 3:30, with Emma in the car.
His friend told investigators that “Emma was fine” when they left. That was the last time Emma was seen alive.
Jeremy Sweet told investigators that 45 minutes after dropping off his friend, he took a wrong turn and drove into some fields. He drove on top of an embankment to see the river, he said, when his truck became stuck. He rocked the pickup back and forth, when it tipped into the water, he said.
Water began to fill the truck, Jeremy Sweet said, so he took Emma to sit on the roof of the truck. At one point, he told police the two fell into the water. He took off her coat.
They remained on top of the truck overnight on Nov. 25, he told police. He said he last saw Emma on top of the truck, “yelling for her mom.” He held her for a while, records state, then sat her on top of the roof again.
He woke up the next morning and Emma was gone.
Four duck hunters found Jeremy Sweet inside the submerged truck on Nov. 26 and called 911. When deputies arrived and asked Jeremy Sweet about his daughter's whereabouts, he replied that he had dropped her off.
Bartholomew County paramedics found a syringe and an empty baggie with a corner cut. Investigators said Jeremy Sweet later told them he used methamphetamine and marijuana the night before the crash.
The medics took Jeremy Sweet to Columbus Regional Hospital for hypothermia treatment. Police placed him on a 72-hour hold while they investigated.
Preliminary findings from Emma Sweet’s autopsy were inconclusive about whether her cause of death was hypothermia or drowning, records state. She had no blunt force trauma injuries on her body. The Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office said final results of the autopsy will return in four to six weeks.
Sweet is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail with a $1.2 million bond.
Contact Sarah Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-503-7514.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Emma Sweet: What her father told police about 2-year-old's death