How Drinking Soda as a Punishment Killed a 5-Year-Old Girl

SURGIONSVILLE, Tenn. (TheBlaze/AP) — An East Tennessee couple is facing murder charges after allegedly forcing the man’s 5-year-old daughter to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water, causing her brain to swell and rupture, authorities said.

Alexa Linbloom died at 5 years old after her brain swelled when she drank too much soda and water, forced upon her as a punishment. (Image source: WBIR-TV)
Alexa Linbloom died at 5 years old. (Image source: WBIR-TV)

According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the autopsy report, Alexa Linboom was brought to the emergency room on Jan. 1, 2012, by her father, Randall Vaughn, and his wife, Mary Vaughn.

The girl was blue and unresponsive with “an abnormal body posture that indicates severe brain damage,” according to the autopsy, which was completed in July 2013.

The Vaughns were arrested on Wednesday and were being held at the Hawkins County Jail on a $500,000 bond each. Officials did not know whether the Vaughns had hired an attorney. Their arraignment was scheduled for Friday morning.

Watch this report from WBIR-TV about the recent development in the case:

An investigation revealed the girl had been forced to drink approximately 2.4 liters of water and soda over one to two hours as punishment. The massive intake of fluid caused her brain to swell and herniate.

According to the autopsy, after she was forced to drink all of the liquid, she began vomiting, urinated on herself and asked to take a bath.

“Outside of the bathtub, she tried to eat oatmeal with assistance then started clenching her hands.” She arrived at the hospital about two to three hours later.

“Caretakers told hospital staff that during the ride to the hospital, she sat up in the vehicle and played patty cake,” according to the autopsy.

Randall Lee and Mary Vaughn were arrested this week, two years after the girl's death, and face murder charges. (Image source: WBIR-TV)
Randall and Mary Vaughn were arrested this week, two years after the girl’s death, and face murder charges. (Image source: WBIR-TV)

She was transported by air to a regional hospital where she was pronounced brain-dead two days later.

The autopsy states that the girl had moved to Tennessee to live with her father about three months before her death. The move was prompted by allegations of neglect at her previous home.

A pediatric check-up about three months before her death had shown no significant problems. She was taken to an outpatient clinic about a month before her death for excessive thirst, urination and eating, but nothing was found to be wrong with her.

According to the autopsy, “Other adults who had regular contact with the child before and after her move to Tennessee describe her as a normal, healthy child and did not notice any unusual eating, drinking habits and that she did not wet her pants at school.”

Featured image via Shutterstock.