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Baby and dog die after being left in car for 6 hours in Virginia, sheriff says; woman arrested

A baby and a dog died after being left in a car for over six hours and a woman has been taken into custody, authorities in Virginia said Wednesday.

Police were called to to Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday after a man came to the emergency room and said he had a “deceased child” in the back of his vehicle, York-Poquoson Sheriff Ron Montgomery saidat a news conference.

Emergency room personnel found a black plastic trash bag in the rear hatch of the vehicle, Montgomery said, and inside the bag was an 11-month-old child’s body. The child was later identified as Myrical Wicker.

An investigation found that the baby had been in the care of babysitter Kristen Graham. Graham, 40, had been caring for the child for about two days, but would periodically “take care of the child sometimes for weeks at a time,” Montgomery said. The child’s mother is a 17-year-old area woman who was not identified in the news conference.

The investigation found that Graham received a phone call from a friend who was in Newport News at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 12. The person asked Graham to bring her cigarettes, and Graham complied, putting the child in the back of her vehicle along with a small dog. Graham went to a 7/11, purchased cigarettes and a bottle of apple juice, and then drove to the friend’s home and “stayed there for some period of time,” Montgomery said. At around 8 a.m., she returned home with the child and dog.

Once arriving home, Graham rolled up the windows on the car, turned the vehicle off and left the dog and the child in the vehicle, Montgomery said. Graham then went to sleep and was awakened at 2:30 p.m. by a phone call.

At that point, she “went outside to then check on the child, who was at that point deceased,” Montgomery said. The child was brought into the house before being transported to the hospital.

Montgomery said that Graham was arrested at her home on Wednesday. She has been charged with felony child neglect, a class four felony, and animal cruelty, a class one misdemeanor. According to court documents, she is still in custody at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

Montgomery said that “there’s a very good possibility that these charges could be upgraded to homicide charges” once an autopsy of the child is completed.

“These are not typical situations that we deal with in your county,” Montgomery said. “When you do come across the death of a child, it affects everyone … We have children ourselves, and I can tell you that we all go home and hug our kids and our grandkids a little tighter after something like this happens.”

Montgomery did not explicitly mention whether heat played a role in the child’s death but the high temperature in Newport News on Tuesday was 88 degrees.

According tokidsandcars.org, the incident marked at least the 26th child to die in a hot car nationwide this year and the 2nd in Virginia.

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