Daycare suspended indefinitely after eight-month-old dies

Posted at 9:36 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 07:26:51-04

An eight-month-old is dead after a day in daycare. The caregiver told police she fed the baby, wrapped her in a blanket, and put her down for a nap. 

It turns out she lied to police and now she's in jail. 

The daycare worker, 23-year-old Leah Walden, worked at the Rocket Tiers Learning Center, a daycare facility that's located on South High Street. 

It turns out video camera surveillance footage told a different story than Walden. 

If a picture tells a thousand words, video may tell even more. 

"Reese Bowman, in my opinion, was tortured. The video will show Ms. Walden covering the baby with excessive blankets for long periods of time which fully covered the child's head," Col. Stanley Branford, chief of detectives for the Baltimore Police Department, said. 

Branford says that video footage revealed eight-month-old Reese Bowman was abused by Walden. 

RELATED: Caretaker charged in death of 8-month-old baby

Baby Reese stopped breathing inside her crib at the center and died after being taken to the hospital with no signs of trauma, police say. 

Walden initially told police she carefully cared for the baby at the daycare, but the facility's director found video surveillance footage from inside the daycare of Walden smothering, swinging, and slapping the baby. 

The director called police.

"Staff members at agencies taking care of children, whether it's a daycare center or a school or summer camp, all should be vigilant and not only making sure that they're keeping themselves safe and out of trouble, but watching their colleagues and their coworkers," Adam Rosenberg, the executive director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, said. 

He says staff at childcare facilities have to keep a watchful eye on each other as well as the children. 

"This is a terrible incident and, you know, I think all of our hearts break and bleed for this family and now we have to think what can we do to prevent it from happening again," Rosenberg said. 

The daycare has had minor complaints in the past that were quickly addressed. 

The Maryland State Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Development found the building was 'not in good repairs,' and exceeded the maximum approved child capacity, among other violations. 

Most of which were addressed within two months. 

Daycare workers aren't required to have certifications or licenses to work at a facility.

A spokesman for the early childhood development division, Bill Reinhard, says the daycare never had any incidents involving children's safety. 

He added the division sent a team to the daycare and suspended its license indefinitely. 

The director will have to file an appeal with a judge before the daycare can open.

Walden's record was clean -- even having a biography on the daycare's website where she's claiming 'babies love her as much as she loves them.'

Now she's behind bars.

"Just evil. I mean what motive could you possibly have for an eight-month-old baby to treat a baby that way. There is no motive that can explain something like this," Branford said. 

The Bowman family released a statement:

"Our family is suffering tremendous pain and wishes to grieve in private.  Our hearts are broken.  No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child under any circumstances.  We await further information from the unfolding investigation."

Police believe Walden acted alone and was the only person arrested. 

She's charged with murder, assault, and child abuse all to the first and second degrees. 

Police say if you feel as if you're child is in danger call Baltimore police's child abuse unit (443) 984-7378.