NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Kaylee Thomas — family members called her “Boo” — was bright beyond her two years.
She could count up to 15, say her ABCs, and loved to give hugs and kisses.
On Aug. 18 around 3 p.m., Kaylee became unresponsive while in the care of 37-year-old Jessica Cherry in her home. Prosecutors say the home, in the 1300 block of Jenifer Street with a big front yard and modern playground equipment, was an unlicensed daycare facility.
Police and paramedics responded to calls for help, but it was too late.
Kaylee was transported to Childen’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters where she was pronounced dead. According to the Norfolk Medical Examiner’s Office, Kaylee’s cause of death and the manner of death are currently listed as pending.
Armed with a search warrant, police returned to the Jenifer Street home after Kaylee’s death to gather evidence, including Ring surveillance camera video. Prosecutors say police reviewed hours of video and learned the camera recorded horrific crimes against other children on Aug. 11, a week before Kaylee died.
Cherry was not facing any charges in connection with Kaylee’s death as of Thursday.
According to prosecutors, a Ring camera inside the daycare was moved so that the lens was turned toward a television screen. Prosecutors say the ring camera recorded disturbing reflections from the dark screen of what was allegedly taking place behind the lens.
During a bond hearing prosecutors played a reflection video that police say showed Cherry covering an infant’s nose and mouth tightly with a cloth and then leaving him alone in a room. Another scene captures her allegedly slapping an infant. Audio of the child crying out in pain was heard in Norfolkjuvenile court while Judge Lyn Simmons, attorneys, and the suspect watched the video of the crimes via reflection video.
Cherry is charged with two counts of gross wanton or reckless care for a child, two counts of endangerment cruelty or injuries to children, stab/cut wounds with malicious intent and a new charge of attempted malicious wounding. All are felony charges and prosecutors say more charges could follow as police continue review images and reflections caught on camera.
Judge Simmons, after hearing and seeing the disturbing images, agreed with prosecutors who argued Cherry should remain held without bond.
Prosecutors called her a danger to the community as families have continued to reach out to her business for child care. Cherry’s attorney told the court the defendant has a ninth-grade education, virtually no criminal history and because of the charges, she has lost custody of her 5-year-old son. After the hearing, Cherry’s family members who attended in a show of support had no comment after hearing the allegations.
Cherry is due in court on Nov. 12 for a preliminary hearing. So far, no charges have been filed in the death of Kaylee. Prosecutors say the case against Cherry is an active police investigation.
WAVY-TV 10 reached out to Kaylee’s family members who relayed that the family remains under a gag order in what is an active police investigation.
However, the family was willing to share with 10 On Your Side precious memories about the baby girl they called Boo. Funeral services for Kaylee were held on Sept. 5 at Metropolitan Funeral Service in Norfolk.
Correction: The initial version of this article gave the incorrect date that Kaylee was found unresponsive. It’s been updated with the correct date, Aug. 18, 2020. WAVY regrets the error.
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