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July 13, 2012 05:57 PM

Dad Remembers Toddler As 'Sweet Little Girl'

wagner, sd

The father of the two-year-old who died last week is speaking about his daughter's death and the charges that were filed in the case this week.

Guy Lovell says Taylor and Laurie Cournoyer were watching his daughter, RieLee Lovell, because he was working through a rough patch with RieLee's mother.  The Cournoyers are now charged with abuse and cruelty to a minor and not reporting the child's death in a timely fashion.  An 11-year-old boy is also being held in connection with the death.

Two-year-old RieLee was found wrapped in a blanket in the closet of a Wagner home on the Fourth of July, but investigators believe she had died more than 36 hours before she was discovered.

"What we're going through now is just kind of unexplainable right now.  All the emotions all at once, and you just can't help but cry sometimes. Even now, I'm trying to hold back tears," RieLee's father, Guy Lovell, said.

Guy didn't want to show his face on camera but did talk about his little girl who would have turned three-years-old at the end of the month.

"She was a sweet little girl all the time she was around.  She always smiled played and laughed," Guy said.

RieLee was staying in a home with 21-year-old Taylor Cournoyer and 28-year-old Laurie Cournoyer with five other children while her parents worked through a rough time in their relationship. Guy says Laurie Cournoyer is his cousin.

"She just said she didn't know where she was at for a couple days and it just appeared to me that they really didn't care. They would rather do whatever they were doing at the time than worry about them," Guy said.

Court documents say the Cournoyers admitted to using meth and smoking marijuana in the days leading up to the discovery of RieLee in the closet. They couldn't tell authorities exactly when they last saw the toddler alive, a toddler who Guy still holds close to his heart.

Ben Dunsmoor: What do you want people to remember most about little RieLee?
Guy: Bright little girl; she gave everybody a hug. She wasn't scared of nobody. She always went up to them and greeted them.

And that's why he's still having a tough time coming to grips with his daughter's death.

"Everything that's going on is just so unreal. Still trying to wrap my head around it.  My baby girl is gone," Guy said.

Lovell says it will take a while to find forgiveness for the Cournoyers but he's doing his best to work through this sudden tragedy.

The Cournoyers are expected in court on Tuesday.

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