September 19 – Relatives of a 6-year-old girl who was beaten to death earlier this month say they are still grieving and seeking justice even after the defendant in the case died Monday.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 37-year-old Dustin Beechner, the man accused of killing his 6-year-old daughter, died Monday morning as a result of self-inflicted injuries that occurred last week.
In response to his death, Jozlyn Beechner’s family said they were focused on the 6-year-old’s death.
“Our family is deeply saddened by what happened to Jozlyn,” the family said in an email to News-Press NOW.
The sheriff’s office said in a press release Thursday, Sept. 15, that Beechner was in hospital in a very serious condition after an act of self-harm at around 10:50 a.m. at the Buchanan County Jail.
He received emergency medical treatment at the prison and was taken to Mosaic Life Care for additional treatment, according to the initial press release. At the time of the incident, he was taken into protective custody after being cleared of suicide watch by mental health professionals on Friday, September 9.
Sheriff Bill Puett said Monday that Beechner’s body has been transported for autopsy and an investigation is currently underway.
“We conduct it like any other investigation. We do interviews, collect evidence … it’s a typical investigation, just like any other case,” Puett said. “Once autopsies are done, we get reports and all that stuff. It often depends on schedules and how quickly we can get information back.”
Beechner’s death comes after he was charged with first-degree child abuse that led to the death of a child.
Police responded at 6:30 am on September 2 at 3217 1/2 Mitchell Ave after Beechner behaved erratically. Upon entering the residence, St. Joseph Police found the body of Jozlyn, who was found dead with blunt force trauma to the head.
According to court records, Jozlyn was struck multiple times with an aluminum baseball bat. Investigators wrote in the statement that Dustin Beechner led officers to the roof of the house where Jozlyn’s body was covered with a white sheet. He identified the victim as his daughter and was taken into custody and charged.
During his arraignment in court, Beechner was ordered to remain in prison without bail. He attended his hearing on September 14, where his bail was again denied. He was due to appear in court on September 16 for a hearing on counsel’s status, along with a preliminary hearing on September 24.
According to court documents, the trial and hearing were canceled on the day of the self-injury incident.
Beechner had an extensive criminal history, dating back nearly 12 years, and he was on probation at the time of his last arrest. He had been charged in Buchanan County, including pleading guilty in two previous domestic violence cases, one involving a cousin and another involving an ex-girlfriend. He was also charged in Andrew and Dekalb counties for other crimes.
News-Press NOW will update this as more details about this matter become available.