Christina Priem, accused in the disappearance and death of 2-year-old Sylar Newton from an Arizona campground in 2010, pleaded guilty Tuesday (May 1) to two counts of child abuse.
Priem, 37, of Flagstaff, Ariz., faced a charge of child abuse in the case along with Nancy Collins, 57, Newton’s custodial mother. Priem also was looking at three felony drug charges linked to the child’s death, The Daily Courier, Prescott, reported.
Sylar Newton’s remains were found in a wash less than 2 miles from the Beaver Creek Campground on Aug. 10, 2010, after he was reported missing July 25, 2010.
Newton went to the Beaver Creek Campground with Priem, her two children, a family friend and Collins on July 23. Priem said she last saw Newton at 12:30 a.m. July 25 in a tent with the family, and discovered him missing at 1:45 a.m.
A family member called the Sedona Fire Department about 15 minutes later, but the call did not make it to the sheriff’s communications center. The campground host called the sheriff’s office at 2:30 a.m., and deputies arrived about 30 minutes later. A massive search began to find Newton, who was last seen wearing only a diaper.
Witnesses at the campground told detectives Newton appeared as if he was under the influence of a narcotic or medication, Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said.
Campers staying near where Newton disappeared told deputies they saw Priem or Collins verbally abuse and push him to the ground the evening before he went missing, according to a search warrant. Campers also told deputies they heard him crying between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., but nothing after that.
Priem could be sentenced to as long as 32 1/2 years in prison, followed by lifetime probation.
She will be sentenced on June 4.
Collins is charged with one count of child abuse; she is currently set for a late-June jury trial.
Click here to read an initial story on the case.