Police: 15-month-old Kannapolis girl dies after assault

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. —

Kannapolis police are promising to get answers in the death of a 15-month-old girl.

“This is probably the worst case I have been involved in in my career,” Chief Woody Chavis said on Thursday, the day after the toddler died at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Chavis wouldn’t discuss the girl’s injuries except to say that they were severe, and sources familiar with the investigation have told Eyewitness News that she may have been sexually assaulted.

Police have not identified the toddler but family members have told Eyewitness News the girl was Malaya Heun, and that her mother had left her with another family member Monday -- the day she was rushed to the hospital.

“It broke my heart. That baby was full of laughter, full of smiles,” said Karen Freiman, who is a cousin of Malaya’s mother and who helped set up a Facebook page asking for prayers for Malaya.

“It rips my heart out, as a mother of three young girls, right now,” Freiman said.

Police are not naming any possible suspects in the case but said they were interviewing several people Thursday.

For friends and family prayers that are too late to save Malaya have turned to prayers for answers.

“Even for people that didn’t know the baby, it’s real hard,” said Lindsay Lydic, a friend. “There are so many prayers going up for her to pull through.”