#babysister | #nanny | Babysitter arrested in death of 8-month-old | Local

Columbia police officers arrested a Fayette woman after responding to the reported death of a baby in a Columbia home Sunday.

Jennifer Johnson, 44, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, child abuse and first-degree child endangerment.

Officers were dispatched to Women’s and Children’s Hospital around 11:16 a.m. Sunday, according to court documents. Officers were told the baby girl had died at about 8:45 a.m.

A detective saw photos taken after the child was declared deceased. The officer said the 8-month-old appeared to have multiple bruises on her head, face and abdomen. It also looked like there were cuts on her chin and nose, according to the documents.

The child was left in the care and custody of Johnson, her babysitter, Saturday evening, at the child’s house in the 1000 block of Elleta Boulevard, according to the baby’s mother. The baby’s siblings, who are 13, 3 and 2, were also left in Johnson’s care.

The mother and father returned to the home between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The mother said the door was locked when she got there.

The mother said her baby was “unresponsive and cool to the touch.” The mother and father immediately took the baby to the hospital.

“That kind of put two and two together why she was, you know, leaving so fast. That’s when we were told that she was rushing her baby to the hospital because her baby wasn’t OK,” neighbor Demitrios Calhoun said.

Calhoun also said the mother was frantic when she ran from the house.

Officers took Johnson to the Police Department headquarters after finding her near the home. Johnson told investigators that she last saw the baby alive at 2:15 a.m. Sunday, while giving the baby a bottle before laying her in bed.

Johnson also said the 13-year-old sibling was present at the house and helped with child care until leaving to go to a friend’s home around 7 p.m. The 13-year-old sibling told officers that the baby was fine and uninjured when they left.

The probable cause statement said investigators were able to take a swab from a dark blue shirt of Johnson’s. The result was a presumptive positive for the presence of blood. The baby’s pink-and-white onesie, which she was wearing before the parents left, was found soaking wet by officers after a search warrant was executed. The baby was taken to the hospital wearing only a diaper.

Officers also spoke to an acquaintance of Johnson’s, who said she had called them around 8:53 a.m. Sunday and said something like “her head, her head” and “she’s gone.”

Johnson said she did not leave the residence after the baby was taken to the hospital. The father arrived back home around 11 p.m. Sunday and told Johnson the baby didn’t make it. Johnson told officers she hadn’t known the baby died until the father told her.

The probable cause statement said Johnson seemed aware the baby died and even made a reference to the head injuries on one of her many phone calls after 8:30 a.m.

Johnson was in the Boone County Jail with no bond.

This investigation was ongoing. KOMU 8 will continue to follow this story as more information is released.

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