Today, I came across another unpublicized update on a case I’ve covered.
You may remember the red-haired beauty in the photo as four-year-old Autumn Marie Horak of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I covered Autumn’s story in early March this year.
On the morning of Friday, February 28, 2020, 21-year-old Christina Collado called 911 to report her daughter “pulseless and not breathing.”
Precious little Autumn was beyond help and pronounced dead at the scene. The little girl, who was found wearing only a diaper, was covered in injuries, including a large bruise on her head, circular bruises on either side of her jaw, and contusions on her forearm and sternum. She also had a large burn on her knee and a “human bite mark” on her thigh.
At first, Christina said her daughter’s injuries were accidental, but eventually, she fessed up to knowing that her boyfriend, 22-year-old Jerome Millen Jr., had been abusing Autumn. Jerome had fled the residence prior to the arrival of police that morning, but he was quickly located at a friend’s house and arrested.
When police told Jerome his girlfriend’s daughter had died, his response was, “So my life is over.”
To his credit, he also took responsibility, telling police, “If all the injuries caused [her] to die, it’s my fault, my fault. If she suffocated, that is my responsibility, and I killed that child.”
According to the criminal complaint, five witnesses, members of both Christina and Jerome’s families, knew about the abuse but didn’t report it.
Jerome was charged with physical abuse of a child resulting in death. Christina, who was four to five months pregnant with Jerome’s baby at the time of Autumn’s death, was charged with chronic neglect of a child resulting in death, a class B felony. If convicted, Jerome could face up to life in prison, and Christina could face up to 60 years.
Well, as it turns out, we don’t have to wait long to find out. Not a peep of this made it to any news sources, even the ones that initially covered Autumn’s case, but Christina Collado pleaded guilty to her felony charge of chronic neglect of a child resulting in death. On August 1, both defendants’ cases were transferred from Judge Joseph R. Wall to Judge Michelle A. Havas, who will preside over Christina’s sentencing hearing at 10:00 AM on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Christina is represented by public defender Lori Ann Kuehn.
As for Jerome Millen Jr., who is represented by public defender Matt Ricci, is scheduled for a plea hearing on Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:00 PM. If he doesn’t plead out, his jury trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM on Monday, September 14, 2020.
I’ll keep you updated!
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Autumn’s case.
Sources: Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website