A Wyoming babysitter has been accused of beating and killing a 5-year-old girl.
Police said 51-year-old Cheri Marler faces charges of first degree murder and child abuse. She has been held in a Wyoming jail without bond.
“In terms of child abuse, this was for me, personally – this was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever worked in,” said Chief Mike Kahre with the Kemmerer Police Department.
He said officers responded to a 911 call around 3:40 p.m. on Friday, November 25. They said Marler told dispatch that the girl, Annabelle, fell down the stairs and was not breathing.
“She pretty much stuck to the baby had fallen down the stairs, but that just wasn’t consistent with some of the things in the home, and the appearance of Annabelle,” Chief Kahre said.
Info in the affidavit gave details of what responding officers saw.
“The color of the child was somewhat dark and pale,” one officer reported. “The left side of the child’s face was completely bruised and appeared to have old bruising under new bruising.”
Crews eventually transported the young girl be medical helicopter to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she died Saturday morning.
Annabelle’s mom, Kayla Kartchner, spoke to 2News about what she saw at the hospital.
“I knew I wasn’t going to have my little girl back,” she said. “She wasn’t going to make it. They tried everything they could. She was already brain dead by the time she got to the hospital.”
According to the affidavit, doctors found several injuries, “which included multiple rib injuries, a punctured lung, several head injuries (old and new), a broken back, many lacerations, scrapes and countless bruises on the entire body of the child.”
Police said Marler had been watching Annabelle and her sister for several months. The mom may have been escaping a domestic abuse situation, according to the affidavit. Police said Marler eventually admitted to slapping and hitting the child.
“I asked her to demonstrate how she did it, and she did take her hands in a clapping motion and slapped them together,” said Chief Kahre. “She said it was anywhere between 5 and 10 times, and said it could have been more times.”
Annabelle’s mom, Kayla, said she was heartbroken. She said Annabelle loved unicorns and the color, pink. She wanted to be a firefighter when she grew up.
“She was very sweet, even when she was sick. She was still trying to be happy and playful. She had a little sister who was just 4-years-old, and her little sister is just so confused on everything,” Kartchner said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.
According to the page, “Her mama was at work when she got this devastating call. We are raising the money for Belle’s funeral services! Please anything helps.”