A Delaware day care worker has been charged with murder after police say she covered the nose and mouth of a 4-month-old baby with her hand until the infant died.
Dejoynay Ferguson, 19, of New Castle, has been booked on one count of first-degree murder.
Delaware State Police officials said in a news release that state troopers and paramedics were called around 10:35 a.m. Thursday to Little People Child Development Center in Bear, where they found the infant girl unresponsive. She was rushed to Christiana Hospital in Newark, where she was pronounced dead.
Ferguson, who was the assigned caregiver for the girl, worked in the Infant Room at the day care. Troopers said investigators with the state police’s homicide unit learned that Ferguson put her hands over the baby’s mouth and nose and restricted her breathing until the girl became unresponsive.
“Once becoming unresponsive, the victim was placed back into a crib by Ferguson,” troopers said in the news release. “After approximately 20 minutes, Ferguson advised the owner of the facility that the victim was unresponsive, at which time a call was made to 911.”
A probable cause affidavit obtained by NBC Philadelphia states that surveillance video at the day care center captured the infant’s death in full. The video shows Ferguson pick the baby up from the floor by her shirt and place her on a changing table.
From there, Ferguson is seen putting on latex gloves and covering the infant’s mouth and nose for more than three minutes, the affidavit says.
It was at that point that the girl stopped moving.
The Delaware News Journal reported that Ferguson initially gave troopers a different story from what was captured on the surveillance footage. After speaking with investigators, however, she admitted grabbing the child by the shirt.
Ferguson told detectives she grabbed the girl and put her hand over her face because she was “fussy” and wouldn’t stop crying, the News Journal reported.
Delaware’s Office of Childcare Licensing has suspended Little People’s license indefinitely following the victim’s slaying, troopers said. According to the News Journal, the Bear facility is one of three operated by the company, with other locations in New Castle and Christiana.
The Christiana site remained open Friday, according to the newspaper. The New Castle facility had workers present, but it was unclear if children were being cared for that day.
A Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families spokesman told the News Journal that Little People passed an inspection in May. All employees, including Ferguson, had passed background checks.
Ferguson is being held at the Dolores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in lieu of $1 million cash bail, state troopers said.
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