A licensed childcare provider from the Bronx, New York has been charged with manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child after police say she killed a 20-month-old last week by stomping on his body three times in an attempt to “toughen him up.”
Athena Skeeter, 40, was babysitting Cardell Williamson at her home on Friday after the child’s father dropped him off, reports Daily Mail. According to the suspect, she was “wrestling” with the toddler on her bed and she lifted him by one leg and arm and placed him on the floor. She then reportedly told police she stepped on his stomach, but “didn’t use full force.” She also says she put her son on top of the child and stepped on his stomach again.
Skeeter told police the toddler “acted different” after that, and that he began vomiting and couldn’t keep his head straight. She says she placed Cardell in a bathtub, splashed cold water on his face, and exited the bathroom, leaving him alone with the water running. When she returned, she reportedly found him with his head under the water.
“I step out of the bathroom to put the chair outside --- I turned around and Cardell was slumped over with his head in the water and steam was coming out of the water,” read the police complaint.
Police say he had burns on his face and was struggling to breathe when they arrived at the scene.
Cardell was rushed to a local hospital, but he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.
Skeeter was arrested and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The victim’s father, Carlyle Williamson, told NY1 his son had been in Skeeter’s care every day, five days a week, for the last couple of months. He says he noticed his child had a few bruises every now and then, but that he chalked it up to his age and the fact that he was an active toddler.
“He’s a happy little boy,” Williamson said. “He’s outgoing, very friendly. He’s a loving child. He’s my heart, my last son, and I’m sorry I lost him. There’s not too much I can say, you know. He died too early for no reason at all. I wish he’s in a better place right now, but I want him to be with me.”
Skeeter’s neighbor says the woman has been a licensed day care worker for 18 years and that, until this incident, he’s never heard of a problem involving the woman and the children under her care.
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