A 3-year-old Ahwatukee girl who was savagely beaten after refusing to eat a hot dog has died of her injuries, police said.
Dani Mayo was covered in bruises from head to toe, police said Sunday. She had multiple skull fractures, retinal hemorrhages, bleeding in the brain and bite marks on her buttocks.
Fire Department personnel who responded to a call Thursday in the 4700 block of East Warner Road in Ahwatukee said at the time that the girl's chances of survival were "dismal." She died Saturday.
"The detectives told me it was one of worst cases they have seen, and these are seasoned detectives," police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Sunday.
Dani's stepfather, Corey Daniels, 22, was booked on four counts of suspicion of child abuse Thursday but now is expected to face a murder charge, Thompson said.
According to court documents, Daniels told investigators he punished the girl for refusing to eat the food he prepared, beginning with his fists and switching to a belt, lashing her more than 36 times, even after she had fallen to the ground.
Police said Daniels, who is unemployed, had previously beaten and bitten the child.
The girl's mother was working Thursday during the fatal beating, police said.
The abuse comes at the tail end of national Domestic Violence Awareness Month and follows two other especially violent Phoenix child-abuse cases this year, Thompson said.
In August, a 6-year-old boy born addicted to crack was beaten repeatedly and died of his injuries.
In July, a 10-year-old girl died after spending hours in a small footlocker at a home near 35th Avenue and Broadway Road. The adults in the case initially said the girl had gotten in the box during a game of hide-and-seek. But police said the girl was a domestic-violence victim who was being punished for stealing a frozen treat from the refrigerator.