The younger sister of two Licking boys who drowned last week may have been in the same river that claimed their lives.
Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson said Monday morning the clothes of 3-year-old Belle Starr Louise Bagley were wet when authorities arrived after receiving the 911 call that her brothers, ages 4 and 7, were missing.
Jesse James Bagley and Wyatt Earp Bagley were found Aug. 10 in the Big Piney River, which ran just behind their home in remote northwest Texas County. Their bodies were discovered about 14 hours after a massive hunt began that included nearly 300 volunteer searchers.
“I think she had been with them, and I think she had been into the river,” Watson said of Belle Bagley. “How she got out and why she didn’t drown, too? We can’t answer that.”
Authorities said Belle alerted her mother, Jennifer Bagley, that her siblings were missing. She and both grandparents, who rented the home on Hazelwood Drive, were inside.
Watson said the children had been playing unsupervised near the house when he believes all three ended up in or near the water.
Watson said Belle has been interviewed by family services.
“She had been with (her brothers),” Watson said. “They were apparently all together. Where one was, all three were.”
Searchers found footprints near the river an estimated 100 yards behind the house. But the river was only one location in the rugged, wooded terrain that was combed over by foot, horseback, four wheelers, boats and helicopter.
The 911 call was made around 5:20 p.m. Aug. 9. Texas County Coroner Tom Whitaker said the boys, who were found at 7:07 and 7:42 a.m., had been dead between 12-15 hours.
Watson said a long period of time passed before Jennifer Bagley called authorities to report Jesse and Wyatt were missing.
“We haven’t been able to pinpoint that, but we feel like it was at least an hour, possibly two hours prior to her making the call to 911,” Watson said.
According to Watson, Texas County Prosecutor Mike Anderson is awaiting toxicology reports before filing any charges. Watson said his department has conducted several interviews, but none will have a barring on any potential charges.
Watson said family members were at least negligent.
“They did nothing other than the fact that the children were not supervised with the river being nearby,” he said. “They were in the house and not watching the children.”