A teenage day care worker is accused of suffocating a 4-month-old infant who would not stop crying at the Delaware facility where she worked.
Dejoynay Ferguson, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a child who was under her care at a day care in Bear, according to a Delaware State Police press release.
On Sept. 5, around 10:30 a.m., Delaware state troopers and emergency responders arrived at Little People Child Development Center to find an unresponsive baby. The child was transported to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Ferguson, who was in charge of looking after the infant the morning she died, was allegedly captured by surveillance footage carrying out the attack. Authorities say the woman, apparently enraged by the child’s incessant cries, grabbed the 4-month-old by the front of the shirt, placed her on a changing table, put on a pair of latex gloves, and covered the baby’s mouth with her hands for roughly three minutes.
“Ferguson intentionally [placed] her hands over [the infant’s] mouth and nose until she stopped breathing and moving,“ an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com stated.
Ferguson allegedly put the child back into a crib and waited 20 minutes before notifying the day care’s owner. Police said surveillance footage showed the child was responsive and moving when she was initially brought into the changing room.
Ferguson later told police the baby was “fussy,” which is what drove her to smother the child, authorities said.
“Ferguson stated her reasoning for suffocating [the infant] was because she would not stop crying,” the affidavit stated.
Officials noted that the Office of Childcare Licensing has revoked the license of Little People Child Development Center.
Despite the indefinite closure, the owner of the day care, Janice Palmer, defended her facility’s practices in the aftermath of the infant’s death.
"I've never had someone die," Palmer told the News Journal last week. "Do you know what that's like? Do you know what that's like to have a baby die in your hands?"
The woman, who also oversaw two other nearby day cares, reportedly ran the facilities with her son and husband.
"I worked on this baby," she added. "I've never maneuvered these waters and we are trying to respect the state. We don't want anything, not one single thing, that's going to jeopardize these folks from doing what they need to do so that this person is brought to justice. Period."
Palmer was unable to be reached for comment.
Yet, parents of children who once attended the day care were deeply troubled by the news.
“It’s horrific news,” Carla Blosser, 31-year-old mother, told Oxygen.com.
“I’m very upset. I feel so bad for the parents and relate so much to them,” she added. “Being new parents, you want the best for the kid, and you’re entrusting the facility to take care of your child. It’s very saddening. It’s hard to put into words. It made me sick to my stomach.”
Blosser, who enlisted the day care to look after her newborn in 2015 and had her issues with the facility, never expected the day care to be the scene of a murder investigation.
“It could have been my child,” she said.
Michael Austin, a public information officer for the Delaware State Police, told Oxygen.com that the victim’s family hasn’t been identified. He declined to provide any further information.
Ferguson was arraigned in New Castle County’s Justice of the Peace Court. She’s currently being held on a $1,000,000 cash bail at the Dolores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution. The 19-year-old’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13 in the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas in Wilmington.
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