Police in Virginia arrested a babysitter who they say left an 11-month-old girl and a small dog to cook to death in a hot car for six hours before the baby’s body was taken to the hospital in a black garbage bag .
Kristen Graham, 40, of Seaford, was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor animal cruelty, York-Poquoson Sheriff Ron Montgomery announced at a news conference Tuesday.
Montgomery said Graham’s main charge could be raised to murder, depending on the results of the baby’s autopsy.
The young man has been identified by law enforcement officials and family members as Myrical Eunik Wicker.
The investigation into the hot car deaths began to unfold Tuesday afternoon, when police were called to a hospital in Newport News, where an elderly man had arrived saying he had a dead baby in his car.
Medical workers followed the man outside and saw a black trash bag in his car containing the lifeless body of a child.
Eleven-month-old Myrical Wicker died Tuesday in Seaford, Virginia, after being left in a hot car with a dog for six hours. Tennille Emerson Shields/Facebook
Kristen Graham, 40, has been arrested on charges of felony child neglect and animal cruelty. Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail
Detectives later contacted Graham, baby Myrical’s caregiver, and interviewed her.
At the time of the baby’s death, Graham had been caring for her for about two days.
Montgomery said the woman often babysat the baby, who was born in October 2022 to 17-year-old Arianna Wicker.
Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Graham received a call from a friend who asked her to bring her a pack of cigarettes, the sheriff said.
The friend had been caring for an elderly person in Newport News and couldn’t leave the house to do her own shopping.
The baby died outside Graham’s home in Seaford, Virginia, while she slept inside, police say.
“So they put the 11-month-old child in the back of the vehicle along with a small dog and transported him to Newport News, where they went to a 7-Eleven, bought cigarettes and a bottle of apple juice,” Montgomery said.
Graham then drove to his friend’s house and stayed there for some time.
Around 8 a.m., he returned to his home on Seaford Road where, according to the sheriff’s office, he rolled up the windows of his car and left the baby and dog inside.
Graham went to sleep and was awakened by a phone call about six hours later, between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., the sheriff said.
York-Poquoson Sheriff Ron Montgomery announced the nanny’s arrest Wednesday. York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office
He then went outside to check on the baby and found Myrical and the dog dead in the car. Temperatures in Seaford that day reached 88 degrees.
The baby was taken inside the home and, for an unknown reason, stuffed into a black trash bag, before Paul Kudlaty, 80, took the lifeless baby to Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital.
Kudlaty is not facing any charges in connection with the baby’s death, Montgomery said.
Officers who then went to Graham’s home to conduct a search found the dog’s body in a bathtub, station WTKR reported.
Myrical Wicker (shown with her 17-year-old mother, Arianna Wicker) was taken to a hospital inside a black trash bag after her death.GoFundMe
Graham told investigators the last thing he remembered was pulling into the driveway and turning off the car’s engine, according to an arrest warrant.
The woman also allegedly said she had taken Gabapentin, a prescription nerve pain medication, before getting behind the wheel to drive to Newport News.
Myrical’s maternal grandmother, Frances Spiers, launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her daughter, Arianna Wicker, with her baby’s funeral expenses, saying the teenage mother had just gotten out of school and was unemployed.
Wicker’s roommate, Tennille Shields, told news station WAVY that she was the one who broke the news to her of her baby’s death.
The baby died along with a small dog, whose body was later found in a bathtub. Tennille Emerson Shields/Facebook
“She started screaming,” Shields recalled.
Baby Myrical’s biological father, Tyshaun Butts, wrote in the description of another online fundraiser that his daughter was “put in a trash bag by someone she considered part of her family.”
The grieving young father said his daughter “was full of life” and “her smile could light up the darkest room.”