UPDATE: Little Lass starts memorial for girl whose remains were found at park

A memorial starts to form on the Smyrna Clayton Little Lass softball field in honor of the late Emma Cole. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Little Lass starts memorial for 3 year old

By Craig Anderson

Delaware State News

SMYRNA — The Smyrna Clayton Little Lass Softball organization plans to create a long-lasting memorial honoring the memory of the late Emma Cole, the child whose remains were discovered near its fields Sept. 13, 2019.

The league issued a Facebook post Monday that read: “The Little Lass Board of Directors would like to express our sincere sadness and heartbreak for the loss of baby Emma Cole.

“Our league is in the process of working on a more permanent memorial, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to place flowers at the complex, we ask that you place them near the memorial wreath that we have placed near our batting cages. Rest In Peace Emma.”

At around 1 p.m. Tuesday, a bouquet of flowers, a wreath with bows, nine stuffed animals and two candles encased in glass with the image of St. Jude settled around a picnic table near the Little Lass batting cages. In the center of it all was a message that read “In Memory of Emma Cole.”

The Facebook post had received 21 comments (many with heart emojis) as of 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, some of which included:

“This is so sweet giving her a memorial. RIP sweet little Emma.”

“God bless you all and everyone missing this sweet angel.”

“Rest In Peace sweet angel .”

“RIP Little Emma.”

“Very sad.”

Emma was 3 years old when she died, according to police, and her body was located at the softball complex at 887 Duck Creek Parkway in Smyrna by a man walking his dog.

Last week, police said former Smyrna residents Kristie Lynn Haas, 28, and Brandon Haas, 38, were arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the case. On Tuesday, Delaware Department of Justice spokesman Mat Marshall said there were no updates available as the investigation continued.

Smyrna Police Department Sgt. Brian Donner also said no further information on the case was available.

Indiana court records show that Kristie Lynn Cole is the mother of Emma Cole and three other children. Records indicate Kristie Cole in 2017 sought permission to relocate from Indiana, a petition that was unopposed. Social media posts show that she met and married Brandon Haas, who is the children’s stepfather, in May 2017.

A private “Justice for Emma Grace” Facebook page had 1,045 members just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Attempts to reach page administrators were not immediately successful.

The page drew international attention, with members reporting to be from Great Britain, Ireland, Holland, Finland, New Zealand and Germany shortly after a poll was taken.

Followers also identified themselves as hailing from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, Maryland and Arkansas, along with local towns such as Hartly, Clayton, Townsend and Smyrna.

Pam Teat of nearby Millington, Maryland, was among the local followers, citing the close ties between area communities.

“When this first happened, a lot of us locally wanted to put an identity to (Emma) and get her served justice in some way,” she said. “It’s just heartbreaking and a lot of people were very moved by the tragedy of it.

‘It was also scary because it happened in (the nearby community) and there was the unknown of a potential safety issue for everyone who lived in it. This kind of puts a closure to that part of it and there’s a bit of comfort in just learning more about it.”

Smyrna-Clayton Little League President Gordon Gelley said Tuesday the organization supports any Little Lass plans moving forward.

“I know the entire area was torn apart when this happened,” he said. “We’d be willing to help out Little Lass with anything it needs.

“We’re all involved in the town and the community and close to each other that (of course) we’d assist them.”

The Little Lass organization referred the Delaware State News to its Facebook post when asked for further comment Tuesday.

While James Faulkner, who has lived at his home next to the Little Lass complex for 68 years, was glad to see progress in the case “It’s sad to hear such a thing so close to home. It’s heartbreaking.

“It was just such a shock knowing that this happened. We’ve had no problems before this. It’s a quiet development and everybody goes and comes as they please. So to have something so terrible as this happen is just so surprising.”

The case timeline

Mr. Haas, 38, was released from Delaware Department of Correction custody on $8,000 cash bail Friday after being brought into DOC on Thursday according to a DOC spokesman. His arraignment was conducted by video with Justice of the Peace Court 2.

Mr. Haas has a preliminary hearing scheduled Jan. 22, 2021 in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas, according to the online offender database Vinelink Delaware, which showed he was released at 1:55 a.m.

Details on Mr. Haas’s charges are not available as his court records were sealed at the request of the Delaware Department of Justice. Mr. Haas was taken into custody Oct. 6 by Newtown Township, Pennsylvania Police for arrest prior to requisition due to being wanted in Delaware.

Ms. Haas, 28, was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police on the same charge. Vinelink records Tuesday showed she remains in custody at the George Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

A Pennsylvania judge had set a $1 million bail for each of the Haas individuals.

This story was been updated with new information.