Police Say Pa. Girl, 12, Died After Abuse Committed By Her Father And His Girlfriend. Her Sisters Want Change

Malinda Hoagland died in May. She was emaciated, weighing just 50 lbs., and had several broken bones

<p>Chester County District Attorney</p> Malinda Hoagland

Chester County District Attorney

Malinda Hoagland

The sisters of a young girl who, according to police, died from abuse allegedly committed by their father and his girlfriend are searching for answers.

Malinda Hoagland was 12 years old when she died in a hospital in Pennsylvania. She was emaciated, weighing just 50 lbs., and had several broken bones.

Rendell Hoagland, Malinda’s father, and his girlfriend, Cindy Warren, have been charged with attempted criminal homicide, kidnapping and several other charges related to his daughter’s death, prosecutors said at the time. It is not immediately clear if they have entered a plea to the charges.

Authorities previously said an investigation uncovered that Malinda had been pulled out of school in late 2023. Police also said they found videos on Warren’s phone showing a shackled Malinda allegedly being berated by both defendants over a speaker system.

Prosecutors allege that Rendell and Warren punished Malinda by making her do “strenuous physical exercise,” and sometimes denied her food.

Related: Pa. Couple Shackled 12-Year-Old Daughter to Furniture and Denied Her Food. She Died Weighing 50 lbs.: D.A.

Warren, court records show, previously pleaded guilty to endangering her 3-year-old-child in a 2007 child abuse case.

Malinda’s half-sisters Emily Lee, 28, and Jamie Hoagland, 23, tell PEOPLE they were not aware of the conditions their younger sister was facing at the end of her life.

“I was just estranged from my father, waiting for my sister to get older,” Lee says. “We had a relationship prior to my father's relationship with Cindy, but I wouldn't say that we knew anything was going on. It's just that we were kept in the dark.”

After Rendell began dating Warren, Lee says she Googled his new girlfriend and learned about her legal history.

“I had said something to my dad like, ‘Hey, Dad, do you know what this woman has been accused of? Do you know what she's done?,’” Lee recalls. “And we were just not supposed to talk about it.”

<p>Chester County District Attorney</p> Rendell Hoagland, left, and Cindy Warren

Chester County District Attorney

Rendell Hoagland, left, and Cindy Warren

Lee says she was hopeful that Warren had changed, but when Rendell moved away and communication started dwindling, her concern for Malinda grew.

Jamie Hoagland says she last saw Malinda in May 2023, after Rendell had begun dating Warren and moved to Chester County, more than two hours away from where she lives. Jamie was going to a competition that Rendell was entered in. When Malinda wasn’t at the competition, though, Jamie demanded to see her.

“I showed up at the hotel with food for all of them,” Jamie recalls. "[Malinda] was in a room that was 50 degrees, so she was under blankets and sweatshirts. I didn't really think anything of it.”

Jamie says when Rendell and Warren left the room, she had a conversation with Malinda, who gave seemingly normal answers, saying she was making friends at her new school.

“And then that's really when [Rendell and Warren] came back into the room and were like, ‘We're going to bed, you guys need to leave now,” Jamie says.

Months later, authorities say Malinda was pulled out of school.

Given Warren’s criminal history, Lee and Jamie, who are being represented by attorneys Alexandria Crouthamel and Tom Bosworth, believe that Child and Youth Services should have visited the home where Malinda was living Rendell and Warren after she was taken out of school.

The sisters are currently working on establishing Malinda’s estate, and Crouthamel tells PEOPLE that they are trying to uncover why more red flags weren’t being raised by child services.

While a lawsuit is possible, for now Lee and Jamie’s attorneys are pushing for legislative change.

“We're pushing for something called Malinda's Law, which is basically a registry for physical offenders,” Crouthamel says. “So yes, there's a registry for sex offenders, as we all know, and everyone can look it up, the general public jobs, everyone. But there's nothing for physical offenders. So the girls would like to have some kind of registry or database to establish that.”

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Crouthamel says she and Bosworth have been in contact with Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro about a potential law in Malinda’s name.

Malinda loved movies and was very outgoing, according to her sister, who remember her as a “bubbly child,” who “loved the world for what it was and loved being in it,” Lee says.

Lee and Jamie are still grieving in the months since Malinda’s death, but they feel compelled to tell her story.

“It never does get easier to talk about it,” Jamie says. “Even a month, even a year from now, it wouldn't be easy to talk about it. But this subject isn't easy, and if we don't have the courage to talk about it, nobody will. And this will go back under the rug where it began, and it can't go back under the rug.”

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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