Police say “disturbing” surveillance footage at a Baltimore day care center shows an 8-month-old girl being “tortured” to death by a staffer at the center.
According to the Baltimore Sun, when little Reese Bowman was found unresponsive last Tuesday, a staffer told Baltimore police that she had fed the baby, wrapped her in a blanket and put her down for a nap.
The apparent truth soon came to light, however, as a result of the video cameras at the Rocket Tiers Learning Center, according to police.
Footage showed 23-year-old Leah Walden covering Reese with “excessive blankets,” including blankets that covered the baby’s head, according to Criminal Investigations Chief Stanley Brandford.
Walden was also seen “violently snatching the child out of the crib with one arm, swinging at the baby as if she was slapping her and placing pillows over the baby’s face,” Brandford added.
According to CBS Baltimore, there were also moments when Walden walked off camera with the baby. Police say they “can only assume” what the 23-year-old may have done off camera.
“Watching that video is disturbing,” Brandford said. “Reese Bowman, in my opinion, was tortured.”
Walden was taken into custody Thursday after the day care center notified the police about the surveillance footage Wednesday. She is facing charges of first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, second-degree child abuse and reckless endangerment.
Branford said the center had been “very cooperative” with the investigation and that there was no reason to believe that there was “anything going on besides this particular incident.”
The baby’s family is asking for privacy in this time of “tremendous pain.”
“Our hearts are broken. No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child under any circumstances,” a statement read. “We await further information from the unfolding investigation.”
The Baltimore Sun notes that Walden’s bio, on the Rocket Tiers’ website, noted that she had been working there for two-and-a-half years.
“I have one year of professional child care experience and six years of part-time baby-sitting,” the bio reads. “I love seeing the children develop new skills like sitting up, crawling and walking. The best part of being an infant teacher is caring for babies who love me as much as I love them. This has been the most rewarding experience for me!”
On Wednesday, Rocket Tiers Learning Center sent out an email to parents informing them that a baby had died.
“At this time, it does not appear that there has been any wrongdoing at this point on RTLC,” the email read. “We send our deepest thoughts and condolences to the family and the RTLC community.”
The center also noted that it was closing in the meantime to “ensure that our teachers and staff receive grief counseling and that the [police] investigation isn’t disrupted in any way,” and that it would “resume business when the time is appropriate.”