Mom charged with abuse after 12-year-old daughter’s suicide, Missouri authorities say

A Missouri mom whose daughter died by suicide is now charged in the girl’s death.

Annie Small, 39, was charged last week with child abuse in the death of her 12-year-old daughter on New Year’s Day in Wyaconda, a small city in northeast Missouri. She was arrested Friday and jailed on $100,000 bond in Clark County.

On the day of her daughter’s death, the girl’s dog was hurt in a fight, according to a probable cause statement. Small told investigators she left her job at a bar to check on the pet and determined the animal was “severely injured.”

Despite her daughter’s requests, Small shot the dog to put it down, authorities say.

After returning to work, Small texted her son to ask whether her daughter was OK, according to the probable cause statement. He responded that she was not.

“Dang it,” Small replied, but she remained at work, authorities say.

Less than an hour and a half later, Small learned her daughter had shot herself, authorities say.

During the death investigation, Small said her children could access firearms, but she didn’t believe her daughter had access to the gun used in the suicide, according to the probable cause statement.

Inside the girl’s bedroom, investigators found “I hate life” and “I am not loved” handwritten on the ceiling. Her diary included the words “plz help me plz plz help,” authorities say.

Small told investigators her daughter said she was considering harming herself a day before the suicide, according to a probable cause statement. She offered to take her daughter to a doctor, but the girl refused, authorities say.

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney April Wilson told McClatchy News it isn’t common to file criminal charges after a suicide, but this isn’t her first similar case.

Wilson prosecuted a Dairy Queen manager in Fayette, Missouri, accused of bullying 17-year-old Kenny Suttner before his suicide in 2016. Harley Branham was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the high-profile case and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault in 2019.

“If you have serious mental or emotional injury, it can you lead you to do very serious self-harming or harming of others,” Wilson said.

A criminal complaint accuses Small of neglecting her daughter by killing the dog after failing to provide the girl with proper medical care and secure guns when the child was making “self-harming statements.”

“I just believe that the way this child died was criminal in nature, and I’m certainly not going to shy away from addressing it,” Wilson said.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or (800) SUICIDE.