Testimony reveals Sullivan County toddler died after being placed in trash can

By: - September 23, 2022 6:21 pm
Evelyn Boswell. (Photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Evelyn Boswell. (Photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

A Sullivan County toddler whose disappearance more than two years ago drew international attention was “tightly wound” in a blanket and aluminum foil, placed in a trash bag and stuffed — alive — inside a trash can, testimony Friday revealed.

Testimony in Sullivan County Criminal Court Friday revealed 18-month-old Evelyn Boswell suffocated inside a trash can placed inside a playhouse her mother — and accused killer — Megan Boswell, used to play in as a child.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan testified Friday the toddler was “tightly-wound” in a fleece blanket, then wrapped in aluminum foil and placed upside down inside a trash bag, which was stuffed into a trash can with such force the child’s head was pressed backward against her back.

“She was sort of compressed in the can,” Mileusnic-Polchan testified. “Her head (was) completely tilted (backward) … severely overextended. She (was) in a distorted fetal position … Her facial features (were) pretty much flattened.”

Mileusnic-Polchan serves as Knox County’s chief medical examiner, heads a regional forensic center located in Knoxville and is an expert in the detection of fatal child abuse. Because of her expertise, she was called in to serve as a consultant on the case by the Sullivan County District Attorney’s office.

Friday’s testimony marks the first time since Evelyn was reported missing in February 2020 and her remains discovered a month later on property owned by her maternal grandfather that her cause of death has been made public.

Mileusnic-Polchan testified a forensic examination makes clear Evelyn’s death was intentional. Mother Megan Boswell has insisted the child died accidentally when either she or her boyfriend rolled over on the toddler while she was sleeping in their bed.

Although the medical examiner’s testimony was public, Sullivan County Judge William Goodwin on Friday ordered the autopsy report and related photographs sealed.

Evelyn’s disappearance drew international attention as her mother, then 18, made a series of contradictory claims in media interviews and statements to authorities about the toddler’s whereabouts in the weeks before her remains were discovered.

At times, Megan Boswell insisted the child was alive and at other times said she had no idea where the girl might be. She blamed a cast of characters for the disappearance, including the child’s father and maternal grandmother.

It’s still not clear when Evelyn was stuffed alive inside the trash can. In reporting the child missing, paternal grandfather Tommy Boswell Sr., told authorities he had not seen the toddler since late November 2019.

The purpose of Friday’s hearing was to determine whether prosecutors would be allowed to show jurors photographs of Evelyn’s body as she was removed from the trash can and unwrapped from the foil and blanket. Megan Boswell’s attorney, Brad Sproles, argued the photos are so graphic that jurors would convict his client solely as an “emotional reaction,” rather than cool reflection of evidence.

At the close of Friday’s hearing, Goodwin ruled some of those photographs are necessary for the state to prove its felony murder case against Megan Boswell, but he is barring jurors from seeing two he deemed particularly graphic and “prejudicial.”

The Tennessee Lookout will have a full report on the case and Friday’s hearing in an upcoming edition.

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Jamie Satterfield
Jamie Satterfield

Jamie Satterfield is an investigative journalist with more than 33 years of experience, specializing in legal affairs, policing, public corruption, environmental crime and civil rights violations. Her journalism has been honored as some of the best in the nation, earning recognition from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the Green Eyeshade Awards, the Tennessee Press Association, the Tennessee Managing Editors Association, the First Amendment Center and many other industry organizations. Her work has led to criminal charges against wrongdoers, changes in state law and citations in legal opinions and journals. She was married to the love of her life for 28 years and is now a widow and proud mother of two successful children of good character and work ethic.