A daycare operator in Virginia has been charged with murder following the death of the 2-year-old she was looking after.
According to reports, Kaylee Thomas was found unresponsive at the home of Jessica Cherry (above) last August. She was rushed to a nearby hospital but sadly pronounced dead. Now, the 37-year-old babysitter has been slapped with murder charges after officials found surveillance footage allegedly showing the woman abusing additional children.
Police say that Cherry watched children at her Norfolk, Virginia home — which had a large front yard and modern playground. However, the daycare was unlicensed, according to prosecutors. Cherry was arrested last September, following the tot’s death, and charged with felony attempted malicious wounding, two counts of felony abuse and neglect of a child, and two counts of felony child endangerment.
Although Kaylee’s cause of death was initially unclear, the coroner has now classified her death as a homicide, prompting Cherry to be charged with one count of second-degree murder.
Authorities discovered a Ring surveillance camera in Cherry’s home while investigating Kaylee’s death. Although the camera was turned towards a television set, prosecutors said in court in September that police were able to see what was going on in the house in the reflection of the dark screen — and that they watched horrific crimes being committed by Cherry against other children on August 11, a week before Kaylee died.
During a bond hearing, prosecutors played a video that police say showed Cherry covering an infant’s nose and mouth tightly with a cloth and then leaving him alone in a room; another shot reportedly showed her slapping an infant. Audio of the child yelling in pain was played in Norfolk juvenile court while Judge Lyn Simmons, attorneys, and the suspect watched the alleged crimes play out in the reflection video.
Prosecutors called Cherry a danger to the community as parents have continued to reach out to her daycare for child care. After hearing and seeing the unsettling scenes, Judge Simmons agreed with prosecutors who argued that Cherry should remain in custody without bail. She remains held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.
Funeral services for Kaylee — family members called her “Boo” — were held on September 5 at Metropolitan Funeral Service in Norfolk. Our hearts go out to the victim’s family at this difficult time, and we hope justice is served in this heinous case.
[Image via Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office]