The day has finally come for me to cover a case from my home state of Kentucky. This case is new and fresh details will probably be released after this episode airs, so keep that in mind in case you’ve heard something that differs from today’s telling. 

On Sunday, February 6th of 2022, Catherine McKinney, mother of 4-year old Serenity McKinney was arrested along with her boyfriend, Dakota Hill in Kansas. No one has physically seen little Serenity since Christmas Eve of 2020.

Catherine, Serenity, and Dakota
Catherine, Serenity, and Dakota

Chain of Events

In the spring of 2021, CPS performed a welfare check. There is no current information on who called for the welfare check, or what transpired. But the chain of events strongly indicates that abuse or neglect of some kind must have been transpiring. 

Around June of last year was when Catherine began to distance herself from her family. The 4-year old’s grandmother, Aundria Wainscott says that she spoke to Serenity on the phone sometime last year in June, a few weeks prior to Father’s Day. Serenity’s grandfather officially submitted a missing person’s report in Shelby County after a prolonged period of not being able to see her. 

Missing Person Report

The grandparents were prompted to file the missing person report after they noticed Catherine displaying odd and antisocial behavior and were then cut off completely by Catherine during the fall of last year. WHAS11ABC news reports that Deputy Shelby Guffey “entered Abby and Serenity into a national database in case they were no longer in Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office executed warrants in Shelby, Bullitt, and Jefferson County, where they believe Abby had lived.”

Serenity Missing Poster
Serenity Missing Poster

Catherine was supposed to turn Serenity over to the state, but that clearly never happened. Both Catherine and Dakota fled the state and have been on the run since the arrest warrant was issued. It is unclear when the first arrest warrant was issued. It seems like potentially they were running from the law prior to the missing person report being issued. I will stay tuned to see what information comes out of the investigation to find that out and I will keep you all posted.

Catherine Remains Silent

WHAS11ABC news reports that “Shelby County Sheriff’s Captain Kyle Tipton said the state was granted emergency legal custody of Serenity on Feb. 3”. WHAS11 goes on to report that on “On Sunday, Feb. 6, law enforcement officials found and served Abby in Kansas, instructing her to relinquish custody of Serenity, according to Capt. Tipton. When she failed to do so,  Abby and her boyfriend, Dakota Hill, were arrested and charged with custodial interference.” 

Serenity with Doll
Serenity with Doll

It has been reported that Catherine has been intentionally unhelpful in the missing person investigation, pleading the 5th amendment right to avoid talking with law enforcement, and refuses to provide information that could help locate her child. A next-door neighbor of the couple told police that Catherine and Dakota had told her they were homeless and that Serenity was staying with family.

Police Looking for Tips

WHAS11 ABC reveals that “the Attorney General’s Special Victims Unit was partnering with the Shelby and Bullitt County Sheriff’s Departments, Kentucky State Police, and the U.S. Secret Service to investigate the case”. The search for Serenity is ongoing and authorities are asking for any information that could help the investigation or to help locate Serenity.

There is, of course, more to the story than what we’ve covered thus far. Catherine was seen with black eyes and bruises months after the last time Serenity was seen alive. Catherine and Dakota spent July through September of 2021 living with friends, Keahna Paige Green and her boyfriend. During that time, Serenity was never with them.  

Disturbing Accounts from Friends

Friends of Catherine and Dakota have come forward with some disturbing information that they revealed to The U.S. Sun. Green says that “When they came in, I saw she had two black eyes and a swollen face. I thought he did something to her, but she was adamant that Dakota didn’t do anything.” 

During this time period, Catherine had blocked her family on social media and was using a new phone. Green also told The US Sun that “anytime she spoke to McKinney alone, Dakota followed them and asked what they were talking about. “Things weren’t adding up,” Green said.

“If we were in the kitchen, he would come in to check up on her on. She couldn’t do anything alone.” Then one day in September 2021, right before they moved out, Hill “screamed and cursed” at McKinney, Green said. “I don’t think he realized I was home, but it shook me to my core,” she said.

“He was so mean and said horrible things to her. But then he went back to this mild-mannered, polite man. “But it was all a facade. He put on this sweet guy act and never said it was his fault or he was having a bad day.” Green and her boyfriend kicked them after that blowout, she said.”

The revelations about Dakota’s violent tendencies seem likely to further reveal abuse for both Catherine and Serenity as the investigation continues. 


The Search Continues

From seeing this kind of thing happen time and time again, I have serious doubts that when Serenity is found, she will be found alive. Statistically speaking, I sadly feel confident in my prediction, but would love nothing more than to be wrong. I will keep following this case as the investigation unfolds. 

I don’t have enough information about whether or not the CPS investigation was botched like so many others, so I will reserve my judgment on that end for now. The same thing goes for the family. It seems like their concern and filing of a missing person report comes really late in the game. Especially since they had been concerned since Christmas of 2020. It’s impossible at the moment to speculate on these two things without more information. 

About Author

Kelley grew up as the fourth of six children in small town Hodgenville, Kentucky where she and her siblings were all homeschooled until graduation when she escaped off to college. Ever since she has been on a quest for learning and enlightenment. She is deeply passionate about politics, animals (particularly dogs and horses), art, film, fashion, and global issues.

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