RieLee Lovell was 2-years old when she was found dead in a home in Wagner, SD on July 4th. Her caregivers, Laurie and Taylor Cournoyer telephoned 911 last week and reported her unresponsive. The problem was she had been unresponsive for a day and a half – and dead in a closet. During the time of her death and the time they decided to telephone 911 they were using meth, drinking and smoking pot. It is unclear how long they knew RieLee was dead. Taylor claims that he went to look for something in a closet and found her body on July 4th. Laurie claims that she called for her but when she didn’t respond she found her in the bedroom wrapped in a blanket and that she was “blue and purplish”. The medical examiner reports that RieLee had been dead for at least a day and a half.
At 9:30 p.m. July 3, one of Laurie Cournoyer’s children, who is 6 years old, asked the neighbor girls whether they wanted to come over and “see my dead sister.” I find this fact to be so disturbing. This took place more than 14 hours before Laurie Cournoyer ever called 911 to report an unresponsive child.
When asked why no one had checked on RieLee, Taylor claimed that he was gone during the day of July 3rd and wanted to relax when he came home from work. Neither has given a conclusive timeline as to the last time they saw RieLee alive in their home. There was no regular feeding routine at their home either, as Taylor claims they were short on food. Taylor also stated that it’s sometimes stressful at home because the kids ‘are real assholes.’ I’m sure it is stressful, but normal parents don’t do drugs around their children; let alone leave their bodies in closets.
On Thursday, both of the Cournoyers were charged with cruelty or abuse of a minor and failure to report the death of a child in Charles Mix County, where they are being held on $500,000 warrants. Caylee’s Law went into effect in South Dakota in the spring and failure to report a child’s death within 6 hours is a felony. It is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The Cournoyers are the first people in the state charged under the failure to report a death statute. The Cournoyers have their next court appearance at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Charles Mix County Courthouse. They aren’t being charged with homicide because a child in their home is allegedly the perpetrator. The 11-year old cousin of RieLee is being held for the homicide and may be tried as an adult.