Norfolk babysitter charged in 2-year-old’s death also accused of injuring two other children who were in her care

Investigative

Jessica Anne Cherry (Photo courtesy: Norfolk City Jail)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A woman accused of murdering a 2-year-old last August is also accused of injuring two other children she cared for at an unlicensed daycare she ran from her Norfolk home.

Jessica Cherry, 38, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Kaylee Thomas. The 2-year-old girl was found unresponsive in a playpen at the babysitter’s Jenifer Street home on Aug. 18. Kaylee was taken to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters where she was pronounced dead, according to court records.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Kaylee was smothered to death and suffered from blunt force trauma injuries. Cherry was charged with her death in January.

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Kaylee wasn’t the first child to die after spending time at the unlicensed daycare. 1-year-old Benjamin Gates was rushed to the hospital after he became unresponsive while in Cherry’s care on Jan. 16, 2020. He died four days later. The OCME told 10 On Your Side investigators that Benjamin’s cause and manner of death are undetermined.

Cherry isn’t accused of killing Benjamin, but she is charged with injuring him. A grand jury indicted Cherry with malicious wounding on Wednesday, alleging that the babysitter injured Benjamin “with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill” him, according to court records.

The same grand jury also indicted Cherry on an aggravated malicious wounding charge in connection with a third child who was injured while in her care. The 1-year-old girl suffered a head injury at the in-home daycare on June 6, 2018. Cherry gave “several different explanations of how the injury occurred” that didn’t make sense to the child’s mother, according to court records.

Cherry is scheduled to appear in Norfolk Circuit Court on July 21.

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