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'It's gut-wrenchingly sad': Body of 4-year-old Serenity McKinney found in Kentucky, more than year after she was last seen alive

Serenity McKinney has not been seen by extended family members since December of 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police have discovered the body of a 4-year-old Shelby County girl that has been missing for more than a year.

According to Kentucky State Police, Serenity McKinney’s remains were found on Friday in West Point around the 1300 block of Skyview Road near the Jefferson-Bullitt County line.

Shelby County Sheriff Timothy Moore said Abby McKinney, Serenity’s biological mother and her boyfriend, Dakota Hill have been taken into custody.

Police said both are facing murder charges in connection to Serenity’s disappearance.

Hill and McKinney have also been charged with abuse of a corpse. They are set to be arraigned on March 2.

They were already in custody at the Shelby County Detention Center after being charged with custodial interference. They were arrested in Kansas on those charges before being extradited back to Kentucky.

Serenity’s body was taken by the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office to the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office in Louisville for an autopsy that took place Saturday morning.

Those results have not yet been released.

As they wait for answers, Serenity's extended family members are planning a balloon release vigil on Sunday, Feb. 27 in Shelbyville. Serenity's funeral will be planned as soon as her body is released from the coroner, according to her family.

The investigation surrounding Serenity’s disappearance and death remains under investigation.

WHAS11 spoke to Tosha Crouch, a mother who lives in Shelbyville. She said the news that Serenity was found dead is devastating.

"It's sad,” Crouch said. “It's gut-wrenchingly sad. The loss of life for this 4-year-old innocent baby is uncalled for. It shoulda never happened."

Family and friends have remained hopeful that Serenity would be found safe. Kentucky State Police Public Information Trooper Scotty Sharp says it's a heartbreaking end to the search.

"These types of cases are the hardest. They're the ones you can never get out of your mind, especially if you're a parent,” Sharp said. “You go home and look at your children. It’s just, it’s tough."

Crouch feels the same; she has three kids herself.

"If you're a parent, it can't not touch your heart,” Crouch said.

She’s lived in Shelbyville for six years now and said she knows how close the community is, and how much everyone prayed for a better outcome.

"A lot of people are broken down over this,” Crouch said.

Sharp said it's the community that's to thank for helping the case gain attention.

“It takes a community. This has really touched on the heartstrings of everyone and we appreciate all of the support and help they have given us,” Sharp said.

Crouch said her heart grieves for Serenity’s family.

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe created for Serenity, click here

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