Chloe Isabella Nicole Darnell became the eighth child of Tammy Manriquez after she was born in a Kentucky driveway.
Down the memory lane….
‘When I held her for the first time, she grabbed my finger with her tiny little hand and squeezed it with the biggest smile on her face,’ Chloe’s teenage sister, Gabby Manriquez, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview.
‘That day I was the happiest I had been in a while.’
But months after Chloe’s 2019 birth, her mother and father moved to Louisville, leaving infant Chloe behind at the home where the couple had been staying, monitored by county welfare workers, according to family members who spoke exclusively with PEOPLE.
Tammy’s father already had custody of her other children, including Gabby, and with his declining health and the recent passing of his wife, that year a judge eventually issued custody of the newborn to an adult cousin, Brittany Slaughter, who did not have kids of her own and did not have a criminal record, according to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department and family members interviewed by PEOPLE.
What the lead investigator says
Now, law enforcement alleges Brittany and her boyfriend, Adam Hayes, killed the child authorities believe to be Chloe whose remains were found buried in a makeshift grave in Daniel Boone National Forest in Eastern Kentucky last week, Dave Lassiter, the lead investigator in Chloe’s homicide case, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview.
Brittany, 24, and Hayes, 34, are each charged with aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, according to the Whitley County District Court.
(Automatic not guilty pleas were entered for the couple, according to the court.)
Hayes ain’t new to child abuse
It isn’t the first time that Hayes has been connected to a child abuse case, Campbell County Sheriff Wayne Barton tells PEOPLE.
On Christmas Day 2009, Hayes was charged with felony aggravated child abuse and neglect, as well as charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer and for allegedly running away when officers tried to arrest him, according to Barton.
And in the case closed in 2010, Hayes was convicted for felony assault involving a child in the Tennessee county, which borders Whitley, Ky, according to investigator Lassiter.