YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A woman has been arrested after an 11-month old child and a dog died in a hot car on Tuesday in York County.

York-Poquoson Sheriff Ron Montgomery announced on Wednesday that 40-year-old Kristen Graham, who had been acting as a caretaker for the child, was taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with felony child abuse and animal cruelty in the case.

Kristen Graham

Montgomery said evidence shows Graham left the child and the small dog in the car with the windows up for several hours on Tuesday, as the heat index rose above 100 degrees. Graham had gone inside her home to sleep, Montgomery says, and by the time she was awoken by a phone call around 2:30 p.m. the child and dog were dead.

Montgomery said statements and evidence show Graham went to Newport News around 1 a.m. that morning to see a friend, and then returned to her home on Seaford Road around 8:30 a.m., leaving both the child and dog inside the car.

The sheriff told 10 On Your Side that Graham left Myrical in a hot car out front from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

“Once she got home, she rolled the window up in the car, turned the car off, left the dog and the child in the vehicle,” Montgomery said.

It’s still unclear exactly why Graham left the child in the car. However Montgomery said Graham told deputies two different stories. She said she had stayed in the car with the child, named Myrical, but she also said she left the child in the car because she knew she was asleep, Montgomery said.

“She would initially have us believe she was in the car with the child and the dog for that duration of time,” Montgomery said. “The evidence we have collected doesn’t support that information. We believe that she left them — went in the house, went to sleep and came back six hours later.”

After a phone call around 2:30 p.m., Graham found Myrical and a dog dead in the car. She called a man who has not been identified who would place the bodies in a black plastic bag.

10 On Your Side asked the sheriff if Graham gave a reason why.

“There really isn’t any good explanation for it,” Montgomery said. There is conflicting information in her statements.”

It’s unknown at this time if Graham was under the influence, but Montgomery says deputies did collect evidence.

Only on 10, we found the roommate of Myrical and her mother Arianna. The two of them moved in with Tennille Shields as soon as Myrical was born in October 2022.

“I can’t even look at her picture,” Shields said. “It makes me cry. I mean the cops were out here and I was showing them video. I had to cut it off. It’s like a dream I want to wake up from — a nightmare. This is something normal people don’t go through.”

Shields is really troubled by the part of the story where Myrical was placed in a black plastic bag and dropped off at Mary Immaculate Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“Why in the hell would someone put a baby in a black trash bag, you know,” Shields said.

Shields was devastated when she found out the 11-month-old was dead. She is the one who informed Arrianna that she was dead.

“I have been in touch with her, and I talked to her earlier today. I was the one who gave her the news about Myrical,” Shields said. “She started screaming, started screaming.”

For Tennille when she heard, she fell on the floor.

Graham is still being held at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. Montgomery said she could potentially face a homicide charge pending the results of an autopsy.