Emma Sweet’s cause of death linked to drowning

The death certificate filed for 2-year-old Emma Sweet indicates her manner of death as homicide and cause of death as complications of hypothermia and asphyxia due to drowning.

The death certificate, required to be filed with the Indiana State Department of Health, indicates an autopsy was done in the death, according to the certificate obtained from the health department.

Her father, Jeremy Sweet, 39, 1415 N. County Road 850E, was arrested on multiple charges Thanksgiving weekend after Emma’s body was found in a debris field in the East Fork White River at 11 a.m. Nov. 28 by a firefighter searching from the riverbank.

Sweet has been charged with a Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death, accused of intentionally placing his daughter Emma, 2, in a situation that endangered her life and health and resulted in her death.

He is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail in lieu of $1.2 million bond (or 10% cash) since his arrest Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Sweet has told multiple versions about what happened regarding the death of his daughter, after he was found by duck hunters in his submerged truck in the river on Nov. 26, according to investigators.

Sweet also is facing a Level 6 felony charge of possession of a hypodermic syringe, which investigators said was found on his person by paramedics when he was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital on Nov. 26.

CRH paramedics located a syringe and an empty corner cut baggie (drug paraphernalia) on Sweet’s person, the probable cause affidavit states. Sweet also faces a habitual offender enhancement that stems from a 2007 conviction of operating an illegal drug lab, as well as a March 2016 conviction of dealing in methamphetamine, according to court records. If convicted of all charges, Sweet could be sentenced to more than 62 years in prison with the habitual offender enhancement.

A hearing on a bail reduction request for Jeremy Sweet was delayed Tuesday after the Bartholomew County Jail reported he was quarantined with a number of inmates after positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in the jail. Sweet is among a group of inmates exposed or testing positive for the virus at the jail, who have been quarantined in one cell block, according to court officials.

Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies were sent to a water rescue in the 1700 block of Blessing Road, off Beatty Lane at 6 a.m. Nov. 26, where Sweet is believed to have driven his truck off a 15- to 20-foot embankment into the river. Four duck hunters told investigators they found the truck submerged in about 3- to 5-feet of water and called 911, while helping get the shirt-less Sweet out of the truck to shore. He did not say anything to the hunters when he was rescued, according to the probable cause affidavit.

At the scene, Sweet initially told investigators, who knew when questioning him that Emma was missing, that he dropped her off at “Casey’s,” but then eventually said that he had unbuckled Emma from her car seat after they were in the river, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Sweet then told investigators he placed her on the hood or roof of the vehicle before “losing her” at some point, the affidavit states.

Investigators then interviewed Sweet at Columbus Regional Hospital, where Sweet told them that he “got lost” on a dirt road and the truck got stuck. Sweet told detectives that as he was trying to move the truck, it went over the embankment and into the river, the affidavit states.

“Jeremy said that water was coming inside the truck, so he put Emma on the hood or roof of the truck. Jeremy said that he and Emma fell into the water and he climbed back up on top of the truck. He said that Emma’s coat was wet, so he took it off of her. He claimed that they were both on top of the truck overnight and the last time he saw Emma, she was on top of the truck yelling for her Mom. Jeremy said that he held her for awhile, but he later put her on top of the roof of the truck by herself because they fell into the water earlier when they were both on the roof. Jeremy said he woke up at some point and Emma was gone,” the affidavit states.

Detectives spoke with a Jodi Miller who they believe is the last person known to have been with Jeremy and Emma Sweet before they were reported missing, the affidavit states. Miller said she was at the Shelbyville casino with Jeremy Sweet and Greg Lawson in the early morning hours of Nov. 24 and arrived at Jeremy’s house later in the morning, according to the affidavit.

They picked up Emma because Linsey Sweet had to go to work and they all went to Miller’s house. Sweet gave Miller a ride to work at Vernet Corp. because her car was broken down, the affidavit states. Miller told investigators that Sweet dropped her off at around 3:30 p.m. Nov. 24 and that Emma was fine when the father and daughter left, which was the last time she saw them.

In a followup interview on Nov. 27, Sweet told detectives that he had used methamphetamine and marijuana before going to the Shelbyville casino, the affidavit states.

Sweet said after he dropped Miller off, he took a wrong turn and ended up driving around in some fields, eventually driving on top of an embankment where he could see the river, the affidavit states.

He said the truck got stuck, so he began rocking the vehicle using the forward and reverse gears, but went too far forward and ended up in the water, which happened about 45 minutes after dropping Miller off on Nov. 24, the affidavit states.

It was still light outside when the two ended up in the water, Sweet told detectives. In this version, Sweet said he and Emma got on top of the roof of the vehicle and fell into the water a couple of times, the affidavit states. Sweet said he removed Emma’s coat because it was soaking wet, but then fell asleep sometime during the evening of Nov. 24, and when he woke up, Emma and her coat were gone, according to the affidavit.

He later told detectives that Emma fell into the water with him on the morning of Nov. 25, and he fell asleep and woke up the night of Nov. 25 and Emma and her coat were gone, according to the affidavit.