2-year-old Kaylee Thomas was discovered unresponsive at her Norfolk, Virginia, daycare while in the care of 37-year-old daycare employee, Jessica Cherry.
The story takes an even darker turn as police discovered surveillance footage from the unlicensed facility that allegedly shows Cherry abusing other children as well.
Kaylee Thomas, or as her family affectionately called her, “Boo” — could count up to 15, say her ABCs, and loved to give hugs and kisses. As her obituary cites, “…to know Kaylee, is to know love.”
At around 3 p.m. on August 18, Kaylee became unresponsive while in the care of Cherry in her home. Prosecutors say the home was an unlicensed daycare facility.
And while police and paramedics responded to calls for help — it was too late. Kaylee was transported to Childen’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters where she was pronounced dead. The Norfolk Medical Examiner’s Office has Kaylee’s cause of death and the manner of death, pending.
Police returned to the home with a search warrant after Kaylee’s death to gather evidence — including Ring surveillance video. Prosecutors say police reviewed hours of video and discovered the camera recorded horrifying crimes against other children on Aug. 11 — a week before Kaylee died.
Prosecutors say a Ring camera inside the daycare was moved so the lens was turned towards a television screen. Prosecutors say the ring camera recorded disturbing reflections from the dark screen of what was allegedly taking place behind the lens.
During a bond hearing, prosecutors played a reflection 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. While another moment shows her allegedly slapping an infant. Audio of the child crying out in pain was heard in Norfolkjuvenile court while Judge Lyn Simmons, attorneys, and the suspect watched the video of the crimes via reflection video.
Cherry is charged with two counts of gross wanton or reckless care for a child, two counts of endangerment cruelty or injuries to children, stab/cut wounds with malicious intent and a new charge of attempted malicious wounding. All are felony charges and prosecutors say additional charges could follow as police continue review images and reflections caught on camera.
Judge Simmons agreed with prosecutors who argued Cherry should remain held without bond.
Prosecutors have deemed her a danger to the community as families have continued to reach out to her business for child care.
Cherry’s attorney informed the court the defendant has a ninth-grade education, no criminal history, and due to the charges, she has lost custody of her 5-year-old son.
Cherry is due in court on Nov. 12 for a preliminary hearing.
No charges have been filed in the death of Kaylee yet.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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