Police arrested a Virginia woman who they say left an 11-month-old baby and a dog inside a car for several hours, where both died.
“Caregiver Kristen Danielle Graham, a 40-year-old Seaford resident, was arrested last night, September 12, 2023, on 1 Felony count of Child Neglect and 1 misdemeanor count of Animal Cruelty,” stated a Facebook post by the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in Yorktown.
An investigation is underway, according to the post, and the medical examiner’s office is determining the cause of death.
A spokesperson from the sheriff’s office confirmed to TODAY.com that the child was a baby girl named Myrical.
York County Sheriff Ron Montgomery said in the press conference that on the afternoon of September 12, police responded to a hospital in Newport News, Virginia, after an elderly man entered the emergency room and reported a deceased child in his car outside.
When staff went outside, they saw a black trash bag in the car that contained the baby.
“That child has been identified as Myrical Wicker, date of birth October the 19th, 2022,” he said.
Police have arrested Kristen Danielle Graham of Yorktown, who they identified as the baby’s caregiver.
According to Montgomery, the caretaker had been caring for the child for an estimated two days. The baby’s mother is 17 years old, he said. Montgomery said that Graham regularly cared for the child, sometimes for weeks-long stretches.
The sheriff explained that around 1 a.m. on the morning of September 12, Graham received a phone call from a friend who asked Graham to bring her cigarettes to a residence in Newport News, where the friend was caring for an elderly man.
“So the 11-month-old child was put in the back of the vehicle along with a small dog and transported to Newport News where they went to a 7-Eleven, purchased cigarettes and a bottle of apple juice,” said Montgomery.
He said Graham then drove to the friend’s location where she stayed “for some period of time.”
Montgomery said evidence shows that the caretaker returned to her York County residence around 8:00 a.m. with the baby.
“Once she got home, she rolled the windows up on the car, turned the car off, left the dog and the child in the vehicle,” he said. Somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m., added Montgomery, the caretaker was awakened by a phone all and went outside “to then check on the child, who was at that point deceased.”
Montgomery said the child was brought inside the house and the person who brought the child to the hospital first placed her in the black plastic bag.
Graham was arrested and taken to the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, where she was being held as of September 13. TODAY.com attempted to reach out to someone to speak on her behalf, but public records do not indicate an attorney for Graham yet.
Montgomery said that depending on the results of the child’s autopsy, the charges could be upgraded to homicide.
“These are not typical situations that we deal with in York County,” he said. “When you do come across the death of a child, it affects everyone.”
“We have children ourselves,” added Montgomery. “I can tell you that we all go home and hug our kids and our grandkids a little tighter after something like this happens.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com