A cease and desist notice now greets anyone who visits the Stacy Cox Daycare in Carmel. However, just three weeks ago, Stacy Cox, who ran the daycare out of her home, was working with her daughter Kirsten Phillips, when a 5-month-old boy died while in their care.
“It sickens me,” said daycare customer Lindsay Duke. “Completely sickens me.”
Duke’s nearly 2-year-old son, Brysen, was at the daycare the day the boy died. In fact, she received a photo from Cox that morning, showing her son and the other children. Phillips is in the middle holding the boy who later died.
Duke said she never received a message or call about the death.
“I never got contacted to come pick [my son] up,” said Duke. “If there wasn’t a parent that ran outside and told me, I wouldn’t have known what happened for probably another five days, is when she finally contacted me.”
Duke said when Cox contacted her, she told her the baby “sort of died of SIDS…sort of.”
According to court documents, Phillips told a Department of Child Services investigator that “the infant had been found on his stomach. She placed him in the crib for his nap, on his back, and to her knowledge, he was not yet capable of rolling himself over.”
The baby was sleeping in a collapsible crib, which investigators found to be broken.
However, that is not all. Investigators found “Cox and Phillips who were supposed to be watching the infant… were under the influence of marijuana.”
Duke said she is not surprised.
“She just had the look like she was under the influence,” said Duke. “You know, her eyes were really heavy, and it was always, ‘I’m so tired. I’m just so tired.’”
Duke said she now questions everything, including apparent bites her son suffered months ago.
“He’s had a bite mark on his chest, where there is no skin, and then he’s had bit marks on his back,” said Duke.
Duke wasn’t the only parent who grew concerned about biting. State investigators began looking into the daycare in September after a similar report of an 8-month-old baby with bite marks on her face and neck.
Then, the state returned to the home multiple times in October, warning Cox she needed to get a license because she cared for too many children.
Though cox never obtained a license, Duke said Cox told her and other parents that she was licensed.
“Everything on that article was a lie of what she’s told me,” said Duke.
Since the death, the Carmel Police Department sent in an undercover officer, who saw two children unattended in high chairs, bleach next to the refrigerator and two space heaters, one of which was covered in a metal cage close to the couch.
An agent with the Bureau of Child Care paid a visit to make sure the daycare was finally following the rules and closed. However, Duke still can’t help but wonder how much harm was done.
“I don’t know how long my son had to witness it,” said Duke. “I don’t know how… I mean, then you start to think so many other things like, were these bite marks caused from something else… and you don’t know. You don’t know.”
Cox and Phillips will have a civil hearing this week. Meanwhile, Carmel police continue to investigate possible criminal charges.