PHOENIX--Before Ame Deal and her relatives moved to Phoenix they lived in Ogden, Utah. School officials there say they repeatedly reported signs of neglect and abuse to authorities, but soon after the family disappeared.
Jileen Boydstun, Ame's second grade teacher at James Madison Elementary School in Ogden, described the little girl as bright and inquisitive, and said she craved the attention of adults. But she also said it was very clear there was something wrong in the girl's home life.
"Ame was just treated differently," Boydstun said. "There just wasn't the affection I could feel coming from the aunt towards Ame and they would tell me they didn't really think Ame belonged to them."
The girl's aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, was her legal guardian. Her brother David Deal is listed as Ame's father on the girl's birth certificate, but court records show that David Deal does not believe he is Ame's biological father.
Stoltzmann, along with her mother Judith Deal, daughter Samantha Allen and son-in-law John Allen, have since been arrested in connection with Ame's heinous murder.
Boydstun said Ame and her siblings constantly came to school filthy.
"She was constantly coming to school dirty, she often had head lice. One time she came to school with cat urine in her shoes and it smelled so badly that the counselor came and cleaned her and got some shoes for her," Boydstun says.
That counselor, Jody Hansen, said the school frequently contacted the local Division of Child and Family Services in regards to Ame and the other children.
"We could tell she was kind of a scapegoat in the family. She was the one that got the brunt of everything, that was pretty obvious," Hansen said.
Boydstun says DCFS did work with the family and tried to help them clean up the home, but neither Ame nor any of the other children living there were removed.
"I know there was an open case with that family there and I know they had people in that home trying to teach them parenting skills," said Boydstun, who added, "it didn't save her."
Soon after those contacts with DCFS Stoltzmann pulled the children out of James Madison Elementary.
According to court records Phoenix Police investigators have obtained records where Ame is listed as an abused, neglected child in Utah.
DCFS in Utah told 3TV they could comment on whether the department had investigated the family.
Ame was found dead on July 12th in a 32-inch long footlocker. Relatives initially said she died accidentally during a game of hide and seek but police now say the relatives lied and two of them murdered the ten year old girl.