Documents detail police action surrounding toddler death
ALPENA — The day Jayde McDonnell died, a police net slowly fell over the man suspected of the violence that killed her.
Documents obtained by The News in a Freedom of Information Act request detail the events of July 22, the day the 2-year-old succumbed to abuse allegedly at the hands of her mother, Adrienne Pavelka, and her mother’s boyfriend, Aaron Trout, in Alcona County.
Police believe Trout had abused the child for some time — duct taping her to a toilet training seat and forcing her to sleep on the porch with her hands tied — before the violent incident they say led to the child’s death.
On July 19, police say, an enraged Trout threw the girl and picked her up by her ankles, swinging her against a hallway wall.
Though the child was seriously injured and mostly unresponsive, neither Trout nor Pavelka called in medical help until, on July 22, Trout drove Pavelka and the girl, who had died, to MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena, according to police.
Trout and Pavelka both face charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.
Pavelka acted “in fear for her life and the lives of people she cared about,” said Matt Wojda, Pavelka’s attorney.
Bill Pfeifer, representing Trout, could not be reached for comment.
The following narrative, describing police actions surrounding Jayde McDonnell’s death, is drawn from reports submitted by police officers and medical workers and submitted to The News by the Michigan State Police.
Sgt. Mark Bluck, Alpena Police Department officer, was only moments away from the hospital when a dispatcher said a woman had just arrived at the emergency room with an unresponsive child shortly after 9 a.m. on July 22.
When Bluck arrived at the hospital, a doctor ran up to him and told him the child was dead.
The girl lay on a gurney in a trauma room, covered to her neck with a sheet. A nurse sat outside the room, visibly shaken.
In another room, Bluck met with Pavelka, who cried as she told him Trout killed the child.
According to Pavelka, Trout became violent when the toddler “went poop in the toilet and didn’t tell us.”
Trout disconnected the home phone so she could not call for help and held a gun to her head, ordering her not to tell anyone, Pavelka told Detective Anthony Utt, of the MSP Alpena Post.
“I did nothing, because I was too scared,” Pavelka told Utt.
The following day, Pavelka went to work and pretended nothing was wrong while Trout was at home alone with the child, she told hospital workers.
According to Pavelka, Trout gave her about 20 “small white pills” that day and the next, saying the pills would “help her forget.”
When Trout finally agreed to take Pavelka and the child to the Alpena hospital on the 22nd, he threatened to kill Pavelka’s mother and other children, then living downstate, if Pavelka did not lie about the girl’s injuries, Pavelka told Bluck at the hospital.
Around the same time, police received word that a man fitting Trout’s description was at the hospital. Officers confirmed the man was not Trout, but the hospital, as a precaution, went on lockdown, and workers moved Pavelka to a room further inside the building.
In the trauma room, the county medical examiner said the child “has been put through hell,” Bluck said.
Meanwhile, police hunted for the black 2014 Ford Taurus in which Trout had sped off, threatening further violence.
Shortly before 10 a.m., a “be on the lookout” alert for Trout’s vehicle reached Iosco County, where a cell phone ping placed Trout. The driver was to be considered armed and dangerous.
Approaching the location shown by the ping from multiple directions, police scoured the area for the Taurus, with no success.
When a new ping placed Trout at his home on Camp Ten Trail, southwest of Glennie, officers took up positions on roads leading to the home. The numerous unmarked trails and back roads in the heavily wooded area around Trout’s home offered means of escape if Trout knew police were moving in on him, so officers had to form a tight but hidden ring around their subject.
With officers arriving from at least nine police agencies, including the MSP Seventh District Fugitive Team and the U.S. Forest Service Law Division, incident commanders established a staging area at the Glennie Fire Department for officers not assigned a position on the perimeter around Trout’s home.
A rural mail carrier in the area tipped police that he had just seen Traut’s Taurus while delivering mail.
At 1:03 p.m., a plainclothed trooper from the Michigan State Police Seventh District Emergency Support Team turned onto a road about half a mile from Trout’s home in an unmarked pickup truck, telling fellow officers he planned to drive past the home to see if the Taurus was there.
Five minutes later, a call on the police radio said the trooper had Trout in custody.
When uniformed officers arrived, they heard yelling coming from behind the home. Running to the back yard, they saw the trooper fighting with Trout, both of them on the ground.
Trout, pinned to the ground by the trooper, flailed his arms and legs, apparently trying to get away. The uniformed officers pulled Trout’s arms behind his back and handcuffed him.
Repeating “I didn’t do anything” and “I don’t even know what’s going on” during his arrest, Trout told police, “I did what was right,” and “I took her to the hospital immediately,” police reported.
After the arrest, health care workers at a nearby hospital, not in Alpena, scanned Trout’s shoulder, spine, and brain for damage he said had been inflicted by police, finding nothing of concern, according to medical records included with police reports.
Drug tests taken at that visit indicated the presence of cannabinoids but were negative for several other drugs.
The same evening, an MSP crime scene response team out of Grayling arrived, entering the home through a sliding glass door leading from a back porch into the living room.
To their left lay a kitchen and small entry room. To their right, a hallway led to two bedrooms, including the room where Trout allegedly initially grabbed the child.
Lab technicians tested multiple spots in the home for blood, including stains on several items in the home and several parts of the hallway wall, with negative results.
On a third spot in the hallway, the response team’s test indicated the possible presence of blood.
The response team collected swabs of “certain areas of interest,” all from the northwest wall of the hallway, for further examination and gathered the bedding for more testing.
In a bathroom, they found a toilet training chair with a piece of duct tape and apparent hair stuck to it. Large areas of mesh-imprinted adhesive residue were evident on the chair.
Outside, they found and collected rope with what looked like hair intertwined in it. A search of a backyard fire pit turned up bandage tape, which the team collected, along with a stained blanket on the back porch.
Police also seized a plastic tub — like the one Pavelka said the couple used as part of the child’s toilet training — and weapons with ammunition, including multiple semi-automatic rifles and pistols.
After about three hours of investigation, including photographing and making sketches of the scene, the crime scene response team left with their evidence, leaving the crime scene secured in the custody of local police.
At an interview with Utt two days later, Trout denied ever hurting the child.
Police arrested Pavelka several days later, shortly after she attended her daughter’s funeral service.
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, email@example.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.