A suspect charged with aggravated child abuse in relation to the death of a 4-year-old Tennessee girl has been jailed. The girl’s mother called the police and said her child was unconscious and bleeding. The girl had serious bruises on her face, chest and back, along with a large cut on the back of her head and above her left eye.
Police arrested the victim's mother's boyfriend, Richard Lassiter, 24, in connection to the girl’s death. Lassiter told police he struck the girl with an open hand, because she woke up her brother, which resulted in her falling and hitting her face against the refrigerator. He said she then went to sleep and never woke up.
The girl’s mother, identified as Zamiyah, wrote a grief-stricken letter on Facebook:
“How could I be so wrong about someone I thought was so right my baby is GONE my heart is gone my soul is Gone and my spirit cold I had faith I kept faith and now my baby my baby she gone how the f***could I not see this... so blinded... I can't think straight I LOVE you mommy, Mommy loves you more Zamiyah.... I just want to wake up from this nightmare I just want to hold my baby girl again I feel defeated.... I know some of my friends and family are concerned I'll be in touch soon but right now I need to get my mind right for my son.... Zamiyah mommy is so sorry I wasn't home to save you I love you baby girl I miss you so much and I promise justice will be served he will suffer for what he did I'm so sorry baby mommy loves you I miss you help keep me sane baby cause mommy loosing it without you here you my everything... watch over your brother and I baby you were truly amazing and I'm glad God allowed me to share these 4 years with you you were the best gift ever baby you were my everything and no one could ever take that away I'll never get over this NEVER!! Fly high in paradise baby I love you.... ?#PrincessZamiyah?"
Mourners made a memorial with flowers and stuffed animals near where the 4-year-old died in remembrance of a life taken too early.
"She took care of him [Lassiter]. I mean, took care of him. He didn't have nothing! Nothing, nothing, nothing," said family friend LaTara Wilson.
Wilson said the couple met in Virginia and stayed with her for several weeks. She is uncertain why the family is in Memphis and believes they were just passing through, according to WMC.
"She didn't have like Christmas and toys and stuff like that. But, she had love. You know, it was like nothing was missing," Wilson said.
Memphis police said once the autopsy determines the cause of death, Lassiter’s charges could be elevated. Currently, he is only charged with aggravated child abuse.