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Woman arrested for child's scalding death
MR Sarah Harris 003
Sarah Harris
A Fort Stewart soldier’s wife was arrested Thursday and charged with the murder of her step-daughter.  
Erica J. Brennan of Ludowici was charged with the murder of her 8-year-old step-daughter, Sarah H. Harris.
According to Long County Sheriff’s Department chief detective Ty Smith, he received a call July 6 from Fort Stewart CID Agent Jeremy Batchelor in regards to an incident of a child being injured.
Smith met Batchelor at Winn Army Hospital and the agent informed him the child had been burned over a majority of her body. Smith then talked to Dr. Juan Vincents, who was the physician on duty and who treated Harris.  
Smith said, “Dr.Vincents told me that Sarah had been burned over 75 to 80 percent of her body, and that in his opinion, there was no way the child could have received the burns in the manner by which the step-mother claimed.”
Vincents also told Smith the child had been airlifted to the Augusta Burn Center for further treatment.
Smith said he then interviewed Brennan and she told him the child had talked to her natural mother earlier and then went into the bathroom and   filled the tub up with hot water and laid down in it.
According to Smith, Brennan said the child had a history of “throwing temper-tantrums” and “acting out and showing herself” after she would talk to her mother.
Brennan said that when she discovered the child in the tub, she got the child out and took her to Winn Army Hospital.
Smith said Harris remained at the Augusta Burn Center until her death on July 15, never regaining consciousness.  
After her death, the body was transported to the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah, and the medical examiner ruled her death to be a homicide, resulting from thermal burns due to scalding.
After further investigation, Smith obtained an arrest warrant and Brennan was arrested and taken into custody at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 2. In addition to being charged with murder, she also was charged with cruelty to a child in the first degree.
The Long County Magistrate Court denied bond, and she is currently being held in the Wayne County Jail.
Brennan is scheduled to appear before the Superior State Court on Aug. 6 in Hinesville for a bond hearing.
The father of the child, Russell Brennan, is serving in Iraq.  
Smith said, on the day of the incident when the child was burned, Russell Brennan was taking an (emergency) leave and returning home.  
Smith said the state of Missouri was the legal guardian of the child, but that Brennan had been awarded temporary custody, and was in the process of obtaining full custody.
He currently is assigned to Fort Stewart.
The detective also said Erica Brennan’s son was living in the home at the time of incident and has since been placed in the custody of the Long County Department of Family and Children Services.
First grade teacher Missy Kennedy, who taught Sarah Harris last year at Smiley Elementary School said, “Sarah was a sweet child. She got along with everybody, and was your typical happy, little girl.”
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