FORSIT, Illinois (WAND) — A homecare worker has been charged after police said she admitted to shaking a 7-week-old baby girl, which led to her death.
Officials have confirmed that the suspect’s name is 24-year-old Taylor Burris of Forsyth. She is charged with endangering the life and health of a child, beating a child under aggravating circumstances, resulting in death, and manslaughter.
Police said on May 17, shortly after 2:00 p.m., emergency medical services and deputies were sent to a home-based day care center located in Doctor Valerian’s 100th Block in Forsyth for an unresponsive child.
When they arrived, they found a 7-week-old baby from Bement, Illinois, unconscious. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she died the same night.
Police said Barris first told them that the child, Maren Gallagher, was in an inflatable chair when she was hit in the head by a ball thrown by another child. She said there was a red mark on the baby’s temple and sent a photo of the wound to the newborn’s mother.
She said that she then laid Maren down for a nap. According to her, after an hour and a half Maren woke up and was given a bottle, but she vomited again.
She was taken to the hospital and died the same day.
After her death, the pathologist reported that she had contusion of the right temple and cheek, subdural hemorrhage, and hemorrhage surrounding the optic nerves and cervical dorsal root ganglia. The pathologist said he saw hemorrhages in the back of the neck and behind the eyes. The results were sent to a medical doctor at the University of Chicago for review.
She reported preliminary findings that the injuries were caused by either a violent car accident or shaken baby syndrome. She said that since there were no known car accidents, she strongly suspected shaken baby syndrome.
An investigation has been launched into the death of the child. On June 14, another interview was conducted with Burris. During this interview, the police said that she admitted to lying about how Maren got the injury to her face.
She said it was a dog tennis ball that made the mark, not a child throwing a softball. She said she lied to the baby’s mother and the police because she needed more plausible ways to explain the injury after she noticed Maren’s deteriorating health.
She said that Maren started crying after being hit in the face. Barris said she took her to another room away from the other children, and police said she admitted to shaking the baby in frustration when it wouldn’t stop crying. After that, she said that she put her to sleep.
Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon confirmed that Maren Gallagher passed away at HSHS St. John’s on May 18 at 3:11 am in the hospital after being taken by ambulance from a kindergarten in Forsyth.
The police got a warrant for her phone. They said it showed Google searches for “shaken baby syndrome” the night Maren was dying in the hospital.
Police said they found more inconsistencies with her first story. They said the 5-year-old who she initially claimed threw the softball and hit Maren was at the school when the incident occurred. They said they were trying to say that the ball was thrown by a 3 year old. They also said that she lied about how many children were present at the time of the incident, initially stating that there were three children there. According to police, there were six children in the house.
Police questioned Burris’s own 5-year-old daughter, who told them she was there when the incident occurred but had no memory of how the ball hit Maren.
Barris told police that the incident took place around 10:40 a.m., but she did not call an ambulance until 2 p.m.
They said she told the dispatcher that the child was unresponsive and in a state of difficulty or apnea for 20 minutes before she called 911.
Police also said doctors found bruising in one of Maren’s lungs based on a CT scan.
When this happened, Barris was the only adult home.
According to coroner Jim Olmon, preliminary autopsy results showed the child suffered a head injury. He called the findings “highly suspicious.”
“The important question in this case, as in all infant head injuries, is whether the injuries sustained by the child are consistent with the explanations given by the caregiver,” Allmon said.
There is no final autopsy report. The official cause of death has not yet been determined.
The death is being investigated by the Sangamon County Coroner and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
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