A 2-year-old girl has been hospitalized with a skull fracture and other injuries, and authorities say her abusers were caught after her neighbor made an important phone call.
The little girl is at Children's Mercy Hospital, where she is receiving treatment for a skull fracture, two black eyes, internal and other numerous injuries. Authorities have charged her mother and her mother's boyfriend with first-degree child endangerment.
Ashley, who asked that we not use her last name, said a horrifying discovery on Easter Sunday prompted her to call the state's social service hotline and Kansas City police.
"I saw her and her face looked deformed. I instantly started crying when I saw her," Ashley said. "It was terrible. We felt like if we didn't call police or somebody, she wasn't going to wake up the next day."
She said she was scared the little girl would never see her third birthday.
Brittaney N. Gannaway, 19, and Jonathan R. Hale, 18, are being held in jail. Prosecutors are requesting a bond of $200,000 each.
Gannaway claimed her daughter was clumsy and hit her head, according to court records. She later claimed her daughter, known as S.G., fell off her bike. She couldn't explain why she didn't seek medical treatment for her daughter. At that time, Gannaway requested an attorney, prosecutors said.
Authorities said Hale could not describe when S.G. fell off the bike and had other inconsistencies in his statements. He told detectives that he thought the child hit her head while playing alone in her bedroom.
"He stated S.G. is very clumsy and falls all the time," according to court documents. "He recalled an incident that occurred approximately a month ago. He stated S.G. fell on a jack stand and sustained a huge bump to the back of her head much like the one on her forehead."
Hale said they gave her Tylenol and put ice on her head, which caused the bump to disappear after a couple of days. He said that Gannaway had talked about getting the girl medical treatment, but he said he discouraged it because he believed state social workers would get involved, according to court records.
Both denied hurting S.G.
Police arrested the two Monday after Ashley called authorities. She said a barbecue and Easter egg hunt was held Sunday at the apartment complex where they all lived. She said the toddler was missing and she was concerned.
"We kept asking where the little girl was. And they kept making excuses. She was asleep. She was watching a movie. And my friend went in there and saw the little girl. She came out crying and told me to come in the room and look," Ashley said.
And she said what she saw horrified her.
"Her forehead was like three times the normal size, like it had a tumor in it. She had two black eyes and welts on her face like someone hitting her. It was bad. It was real serious," Ashley said.
Ashley said she confronted the girl's mother, who told her the little girl fell during a visit to her maternal grandmother's home.
She knows she did the right thing, and Ashley said she hopes others would too in similar circumstances. She said always keep an eye out for signs of child abuse.
"She's only 2. she can't defend herself," Ashley said. "She's defenseless, and if I can save a life anyone else around here can."
Another child was in the residence. She was not harmed but had been placed in protective care, authorities said.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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