Daniel Callihan arrest

Daniel Callihan is taken into custody on June 13, 2024 in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office)

Law enforcement authorities in Mississippi said Monday that 4-year-old Erin Brunett, who was abducted along with her 6-year-old sister from the Tangipahoa Parish home where their mother was found dead,?may have died of asphyxiation.

The girl's mother?Callie Brunett, 35, died of “multiple sharp force injuries,”?Tangipahoa Parish Coroner Rick Foster said.

The statements from law enforcement agencies on Monday came as investigators from multiple agencies continued probing the horrific crime.

Callie Brunett was found dead inside a bedroom of her rural Loranger home?on Thursday morning, and her two daughters, Erin and her sister, were missing.?Erin was found dead later Thursday afternoon in a wooded area near Jackson, Mississippi. Her sister was found injured but alive.

The two suspects who were arrested last week in connection with the deaths and abductions, Daniel Callihan, 36, and Victoria Cox, 32, are being held in Mississippi on counts of capital murder and sexual battery, according to Mississippi law enforcement officials. In Tangipahoa, Callihan also faces counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery and?aggravated kidnapping.

Cox, who made a first court appearance Monday afternoon in Jackson, was ordered held on $500,000 bond for the sexual battery charge. No bond was set on the murder charge.?Cox was being held in Hinds County jail.

Callihan, who has not yet made a court appearance, remained in the Rankin County jail in Mississippi.?

Daniel Callihan mug

Daniel Callihan (Courtesy of Jackson Police Department)

While Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade noted that his department is waiting on an official cause of death for Erin Brunett from the medical examiner, he said he believed she may have been suffocated to death.

“I would assume — and this is clearly an assumption — that she possibly died from asphyxiation or suffocation but we would have to wait on the medical examiner before we release that information,” Wade said.

“I did not see any gunshot wounds or anything like that,” he added.

Victoria Cox mug

Victoria Cox (Courtesy of Jackson Police Department)

Foster, meanwhile, said that Callie Brunett died of “multiple stab wounds to [her] head, neck, chest, abdomen and back, and what appeared to be defensive wounds to arms,” Foster said.

As Callihan?was being escorted to jail on Friday he appeared to confess to the crimes. “Sober, no drugs in my system, I did it,” he told WWL Louisiana and other media outlets. “For what I did, lethal injection is the easiest thing for me.”

Wade on Monday said that Callihan’s interview with Mississippi authorities “was pretty consistent with what he said to” the media, but he did not say explicitly that Callihan had confessed to any crimes.

“I cannot divulge his entire interview,” he said. “He’s not denying anything. He has implicated the young lady that we charged as well. We feel we have a very strong case as we move forward against both of them in this particular matter.”

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Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards in his office, Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in Hammond, La.

In Tangipahoa, Sheriff Daniel Edwards on Friday also said that his office had interviewed Callihan and that he felt that his office’s case was “much stronger” after the interview.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the deaths and abductions. Callihan and Cox may face federal charges in addition to the state charges that have already been brought against them.

Authorities in both Louisiana and Mississippi indicated that the death penalty?may be on the table.

“I figure if there is a case that would definitely rise to the level of the death penalty, this should be it,” Wade said. “Because I still have imprinted in my head the sight of that 4-year-old in the woods, dead.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated Erin Brunett’s age based on comments from authorities.?

Email Alex Lubben at alex.lubben@theadvocate.com.