Society

South Carolina Toddler Killed After Family Friend Gave Him a Bear Hug

| by Lisa Fogarty

A 26-year-old South Carolina man has been arrested for killing a 14-month-old baby after he allegedly squeezed him to death by giving him a bear hug.

Robert Christian Kemp was reportedly babysitting Jaylen Harris on June 26, 2013 in Columbia. He was a friend of the family. Police say Kemp admitted that he was playing with the baby when Jaylen began rubbing his eyes, which made Kemp suspect the child was tired, reports Huffington Post. Kemp says he put Jaylen in his crib on his back with a bottle and went into the kitchen to perform a few chores. When he returned to the nursery to check on him, Jaylen was reportedly unconscious and on his stomach, with his hands balled up into fists.

There was another person in the home, police say, who tried to perform CPR on the boy, but could not resuscitate him.

The sheriff’s report indicates that the suspect gave the child “a bear hug, squeezing the victim so tight that the victim stopped breathing as a result causing the toddler’s death,” reports WCIV-TV.

An autopsy confirmed that Jaylen died from asphyxiation.

It’s unclear whether the family waited to press charges on Kemp or if it took police this long to find enough evidence to arrest the man. He was taken into custody on Tuesday and released the following day on $10,000 bond.

After their child died, Jaylen’s family created a page for GiveForward.com in order to raise money for funeral expenses. On the site they wrote the following:

Baby Jaylen Harris passed away in his sleep on natural causes. He was 14 months old. He was the sweetest, happiest baby you would ever meet. He was a blessing and a joy to this family.

Sources: Huffington Post, WCIV-TV