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A North Dakota woman has been charged with murder and child abuse after a toddler placed in her care for a Halloween sleepover died in November after days on life support.
Brandi Adeleke, 37, of Fargo was charged Friday with one count of murder and one count of felony child abuse, according to Cass County Jail records. She had been caring for 15-month-old Meka Ducheneaux, who was found unresponsive at her apartment and died four days later after being taken off life support on Nov. 24.
The toddler’s aunt and primary caregiver, Amanda Carrillo, told local outlet KVLY that she had left the girl with Adeleke, a trusted longtime family friend who often watched her children, for a Halloween sleepover. At the end of that weekend, she says she was told that the house had become infected with COVID-19 and it was best that the toddler quarantine there. Police said that this was a lie, the station reported.
Weeks later, on Nov. 20, Carrillo was informed in person that the toddler was then being taken to the emergency room. At that point she rushed to the hospital, she said.
“When I arrived it was like I was walking into a Lifetime movie crime scene,” Carrillo wrote on a GoFundMe page. “They had brown paper evidence bags and rulers to measure the wounds and evidence recording equipment. I instantly got sick to my stomach.
“I spoke to the detective and it became clear that Meka wasn't just sick, she had been horribly abused, burned with chemicals, given alcohol, battered, and raped multiple ways,” Carrillo wrote on the fundraising page on November 24.
However, Fargo police told Oxygen.com on Thursday that those allegations were not part of their initial report.
Police said that an autopsy on the toddler revealed several blunt force injuries, KVLY reported. Court documents indicate that while giving the child a bath, Adeleke left the girl unattended, and she was underwater for a brief amount of time, the station reported. Documents say Adeleke told authorities she’d tried pinching and slapping the toddler’s face after she became unresponsive, according to KLYV.
Carrillo wrote that after four days in the ER, Mika had no brain activity, and the family decided to take her off of life support on Nov. 24, at which point the toddler died. Carrillo said that she is still searching for answers as to how this could have happened.
“I don't know how human beings could be so cruel and heartless,” she wrote. “There were numerous people that knew what was going on during the days that the abuse was being carried out and failed to reach out to the right people and just allowed the torture to continue.”
Adeleke is being held on $1 million bond, according to KVLY. The Carillo family has said they are planning a public memorial for Meka within the coming weeks.
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