Updated: Aug 19, 2022
Mercedes lived in Marshall County with both of her parents, when a long-time friend of her father’s agreed to babysit. They met with their long time friend, thirty-seven-year-old Justin Miller, at a motel in Plymouth on August 12th, so the parents could take a break.
Reports show that Miller got into an argument with his then-girlfriend which caused Mercedes to become agitated. He said he backhanded her to keep her quiet which caused the back of her head to hit the wall. The argument later continued between him and his girlfriend. He smacked Mercedes again, and she went back down.
Eventually he went to sleep, and when he woke up later, he found that Mercedes was not moving. Miller then loaded Mercedes' body into his jeep and drove to a rural area in Stark County. He wrapped her in a pink blanket, buried her in the woods and spread debris over the burial to hide the grave.
Initially, Mercedes father was in contact with Miller, but on August 14th, Miller stopped responding. The next day, the parents went and filed a missing persons report, and a Silver Alert was issued.
Multiple agencies collaborated in the efforts to bring Mercedes home, including the FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team. During the investigation, Miller and both parents were arrested and charged with Child Neglect. Miller said when he left his girlfriends apartment, he went back to the hotel where the parents were and dropped Mercedes off with a woman at the motel. Miller's friend reported that he came with Mercedes to her on August 13 and left. He then returned on August 15th without Mercedes.
On August 18th, Miller told Investigators that he found Mercedes deceased in the home, and subsequently showed Investigators the location of Mercedes' remains, in a wooded area near the intersection of County Road 1025 East and 50 North, where he buried her.
The autopsy confirmed that the manner of death was a homicide. Mercedes had hemorrhaging in her brain, causing her death, with cuts and swelling to her eye, cheek, mouth and chin.
Justin Miller was charged with murder and plead guilty. Miller was sentenced to 65 years, the maximum sentence allowed by law.
The case never went to trial. on January 18, 2022, Justin Lee Miller was given a 65 year sentence. His projected release date is 05/16/2070. He is housed in the Indiana State Prison.
It is believed that Miller beat and killed her while he was at his girlfriends apartment in Mishawaka
As for Mercedes father, Kenneth Robert Lain, he was charged and convicted on a plea agreement of 1 count on Child Neglect. He had 8 prior felony convictions and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years. The court recognized that he utilized the drug rehabilitation services in jail. He was sentenced on February 18, 2022.
Mercedes mother, Tiffany Jo Coburn also received a plea deal on 1 count of Child Neglect. The sentencing showed that she showed no remorse or accountability in her role of her daughter's death thru her actions. She was also sentenced on February 25, 2022 to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Mercedes extended family reported they tried everything they could to remove Mercedes from their care, including several contacts to DCFS. The family did not believe either of the parents had a part in Mercedes death.
Mercedes Christine Lynn Lain gained her angel wings on Wednesday August 18, 2021 in Grovertown. She now flies with the angels, looking over each of us every day with her infectious smile. She was born on September 24, 2020 in Plymouth to Tiffany (Milton) Coburn and Kenneth Lain, and was eleven months old at the time of her death.
Mercedes lived in Plymouth her entire life. She was full of smiles that could light up the darkest room. She was loved by many and will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her parents Tiffany and Kenneth of Plymouth; three sisters Khloe Coburn and Summer Lain both of Grovertown, and Ava Lain of Plymouth; grandparents Angie and Chris Owens of Grovertown; one aunt Stacy (David Shireman) Milton of Plymouth; and three great-grandparents Doug and Vicki Harmon of Plymouth and Nelson Washburn of Plymouth. She is preceded in death by two grandparents; two great-grandparents Bobby and Carolyn Owens; and three great-great-grandparents.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 CDT Friday August 27, 2021 at the Knox United Methodist Church. Visiting hours will also be on Friday August 27 from Noon to 2:00 CDT, also at the church. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the family.
Rest in Peace little Angel
Information accumulated by:
South Bend Tribune