Case of Phoenix girl who died in footlocker

A woman on trial in the death of 10-year-old Ame Deal told a detective she knew the child had been placed in the plastic storage container where she later was found dead, a video recording of her being questioned shows.

Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen, 28, Ame’s cousin, told then-Detective Gregory McKay, on July 27, 2011, that she knew her husband, John Michael Allen, placed the girl inside of the box, according to her videotaped statements to Phoenix police, shown to jurors Thursday.

“There never was intention on killing her,” Allen said in the video.

“He [John Allen] said he was going to get her out,” she said.

Allen is on trial in Maricopa County Superior Court on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit child abuse and three counts of child abuse.

John Allen is set to face trial Aug. 7. The two are the only people still facing murder charges in connection with Ame’s death. 

Three other relatives have been convicted of abusing Ame and are currently in prison. 

Video presented Thursday showed Sammantha Allen telling McKay that she knew Ame was still inside of the 31-by-14-by-12 inch box when she fell asleep, and that multiple members of the family had used the small plastic box as a form of punishment for the child.

That box was padlocked shut and Ame suffocated inside of it in the Phoenix home, authorities say.

Allen initially told Phoenix police the girl’s death was a result of a tragic game of hide-and-seek gone wrong.


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In the video from 2011, Allen told police that she had placed Ame in the plastic box as punishment in the past and had seen multiple family members do the same on multiple occasions.

“(John Allen) said he remembered times where (Ame) spent times in the box overnight and survived,” Allen said.

McKay spoke to Allen the night of July 27 and into the hours of the early morning. She initially told him that she did not see her husband place Ame in the box before she went to bed.

That story changed as the night went on, with Allen eventually saying that she did see her husband place Ame in the box before she fell asleep.

McKay continued to press her in the 2011 video, asking her how there was standing water inside of the box when police arrived and why Ame was wet.

“Maybe she was sweating throughout the night, I don’t know,” Allen said.

Jurors saw McKay ask Allen in the video what she would call putting a child in a small, hot container overnight.

“Abuse,” Allen replied.

“Know what I call it? Murder. That’s what I call it,” McKay said.

On Tuesday, jurors saw photographs of Ame’s body. Allen’s defense lawyers have yet to present their case.


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