Mitchell, South Dakota: When law enforcement was first notified that 33-year-old Mandie Miller and 28-year-old Aleksander Kurmoyarov were reportedly traveling with the body of Miller's 8-year-old adopted daughter, Meelah Miller, they stated that the had not reported the death because they "wanted to spend more time with her."
The pair were arrested on Thursday, December 15 after the Davison County Coroner placed a call to the Mitchell Police Department to notify them that he had been contacted by individuals traveling from Washington with their deceased daughter.
Mitchell Police Officers located Miller and Kurmoyarov at a residence where they had reportedly been staying for at least two days. At that residence officers found a tow-behind U-Haul trailer that the couple stated contained a coffin with Meelah's body.
Following contact with law enforcement both Miller and Kurmoyarov gave conflicting reports.
Miller stated that Meelah had died on September 10, 2022 after choking on a milkshake. She stated that they did not seek medical attention at the time because it takes emergency services 30 minutes to reach their residence, but that Kurmoyarov had performed CPR for 30 minutes but was unable to revive her.
Kurmoyarov stated that Meelah died a little before Halloween 2022 saying that the girl had been sick and her death was "tragic," but made no reference to choking.
Kurmoyarov is reported to have admitted that he did not seek medical attention for Meelah because he and Miller wanted to spend more time with her and that he was afraid they would get into trouble.
Mitchell Police charged the couple with failure to notify law enforcement of the death of a juvenile, a Class 5 felony which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Following their arrest the Yakima Herald-Republic reports that the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office began pursuing charges against both Miller and Kurmoyarov for unlawful imprisonment, first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree murder.
According to statements made to police, Kurmoyarov reportedly told detectives that Miller would hit Meelah's toes with a hammer when she misbehaved and that they would both tie her up for between four and six hours a day.
On the day that Kurmoyarov stated Meelah died, he allegedly said that they had zip tied her to a car seat and that he had slapped her twice that day.
Meelah's manner of death was determined to be homicide, but the cause could not be determined conclusively due to the state of her remains.
The investigation remains on going and the Airway Heights Police are working with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, the Spokane Tribal Police Department and the Mitchell Police Department.
Meelah was Miller's niece before she adopted her. Miller was reportedly affiliated with the Rosebud Sioux and had been in contact with someone at a funeral home there concerning bringing Meelah's body there for burial.
Citing a report from Child Protective Services, the Yakima Herald-Republic indicates that Meelah had not been in school since January 2022.