Vernal woman charged with aggravated murder in 3-year-old stepdaughter’s smothering death

(Photo courtesy Uintah County Jail) McKenley Jordan Yadon, who has been charged with aggravated murder and child abuse in the death of her 3-year-old stepdaughter.

A Vernal woman is facing charges of aggravated murder and child abuse after being accused of smothering her 3-year-old stepdaughter to death earlier this month.

The charges against McKenley Jordan Yadon, 24, of Vernal, were filed Friday in Utah’s 8th District Court. Yadon was booked into the Uintah County jail Thursday, and is being held without bail.

Arianna Rose Stout would have turned 4 years old on May 19, according to an obituary posted by the Ashley Valley Funeral Home in Vernal. Instead, her funeral was held May 20. She is survived by her father, Aaron, two siblings, and numerous grandparents, uncles and aunts.

In a probable cause statement filed Tuesday, Vernal police said they responded to a medical call just before noon May 14. A medical examiner pronounced Arianna dead about an hour later. An autopsy was conducted the next day, and the results a week later concluded the girl died of “asphyxia due to smothering.”

In the statement, police said Yadon, in a police vehicle after being read her Miranda rights, “admitted to causing the death of" Arianna. Later, at the police station, police said, she demonstrated her actions on a juvenile-sized CPR mannequin, and said “she had been planning and thinking about doing this act for two or three days” before the girl’s death.

Police said Yadon showed how the child struggled while Yadon held her down “for what she believed to be 4-5 minutes.” After the girl’s death, the statement said, Yadon said she waited 10 to 15 minutes before calling a friend, who called 911.

The murder charge is a first-degree felony, with a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life without parole. The child abuse count is a second-degree felony, punishable by a sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

A date for Yadon’s next court appearance has not been announced.