INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Criminal charges were filed against two people after a 10-month-old girl died at a Speedway day care in April.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced on Wednesday that Miracles and Blessings Daycare owner Jacqueline Murray and employee Karen Tharpe have been charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Murray knowingly left Tharpe alone at the facility for a significant amount of time with 36 children spread out in three rooms.
“The fundamental allegation is it’s inappropriate to leave that many children in the care of one person,” said Marion county prosecutor Terry Curry.
According to court records, it would have been “impossible for one employee to visually see all of the children in the different rooms.”
Tharpe allegedly put Taliah Brigham in her car seat and buckled the chest buckle, but she did not buckle the bottom buckle. She then left the infant unattended for at least five minutes.
“As a consequence, the infant slid down in the seat and was strangled by the chest buckle,” said Curry.
Tharpe later found the girl unconscious in her car seat, and she called 911. Brigham was rushed to Riley Hospital where she later died.
Just days after the infant’s death, the state issued an emergency letter to decertify the business and claimed the death was due to a lack of supervision. In the end, prosecutors agreed.
“I certainly anticipate that every parent who would bring their child to any day care would be appalled to find out that one person was in charge of 36 children,” said Curry.
The day care shut down in April, following the loss of state certification which stripped the business of federal vouchers.
The two suspects have not been arrested. Both are expected to have an initial hearing next week.
Troyel Brigham, the baby’s father, told FOX59 that he hoped people would take away from the story that it’s important to research child care facilities and hold the people who care for your kids accountable.
In a Facebook post, Brigham said “…I hope this shows us all that we must take the right precautions before enrolling our children anywhere.”
FOX59 looked into what you can find online, if you want to research day cares to make sure your child is in good hands.
Marni Lemons, with the Family and Social Services Administration, said that Indiana’s laws governing child care can be confusing. If a center is religious-based, it can classify as a ministry and does not have to get a license. However, if it accepts federal money and CCDF vouchers, it must adhere to guidelines and be inspected by the state.
Also, if you use an in home day care, it only has to hold a license to care for five or more kids who are not related to the owner.
Lemons encouraged families to ask questions, ask to see a license, and do research online. She also suggested you stop in unannounced in the middle of the day to make sure enough people are monitoring kids at the day care.
“When tragedies do occur in child care we usually find that it happens in a situation where children are not being adequately supervised,” Lemons said.