HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — On the first day of her father's trial, Ashley Rinehart tearfully told a Cass County court today of an incestuous relationship with her father, resulting in four babies.
The 20-year-old woman said her father began having sex with her when she was 5. Her grueling testimony lasted a couple of hours, with several pauses as the witness became emotional in telling her story.
Danial Rinehart, 49, is charged with second-degree felony murder, statutory rape and two counts each of child endangerment, incest and abandonment of a corpse.
Three of the babies died. A boy, 4, survived. Remains of two siblings were found in chest-type coolers in a barn on a farm where the family had lived. One child was buried in a make-shift grave in a remote area in eastern Oklahoma.
The last to be born was a girl named Goldie, born April 6, 2008. She died soon after birth.
“I kept asking him (her father) if she was okay, and he said she was,” Ashley said. “But then she died. He wrapped her in a blanket and left her at my feet.”
Authorities say Rinehart never sought medical attention for Ashley or the babies.
For much of the years of abuse, the family, including three other daughters, moved from town to town traveling a nomadic life in a pickup and spending nights in an overhead camper. By late 2005, the family had settled on a small farm north of Harrisonville that belonged to Rinehart’s parents.
Authorities say Rinehart’s wife, Linda Rinehart, knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it. She is charged with two counts of child endangerment and is scheduled for trial in August.
The first witness in the trial testified how he found the remains of two babies. A detective with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office later showed graphic photos on a large screen, showing the remains and baby toys and clothes inside the coolers.
Rinehart was arrested in January of 2009 after another of his daughters ran away and called police from a Wal-Mart store in Harrisonville.
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