In-home daycare operator in Norfolk charged with murder in 2-year-old girl’s death

Crime Tracker

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A medical examiner has ruled the August 2020 death of a 2-year-old girl at an in-home daycare in Norfolk as a homicide.

Norfolk police have charged the operator of the daycare, 37-year-old Jessica Anne Cherry, with second-degree murder, the department announced in a news release Tuesday.

She is being held at the Norfolk City Jail without bond.

In September, 10 On Your Side reported on the death of Kaylee Thomas, a bright 2-year-old girl who was found unresponsive while at the home in the 1300 block of Jenifer Street in Norfolk on the afternoon of Aug. 18.

She was taken to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, but medical staff could not save her. There, she was pronounced dead.

Cherry was arrested and charged in September in the wake of Kaylee’s death. At the time, police charged Cherry with felony attempted malicious wounding, two counts of felony abuse and neglect of a child, and two counts of felony child endangerment.

The home on Jenifer Street, with a big front yard and modern playground equipment, was an unlicensed daycare facility, authorities have said.

During a bond hearing in September for the initial charges, prosecutors introduced Ring camera video from the home, which showed reflections of a child in the dark screen of a television.

Prosecutors say police reviewed hours of video and learned the camera recorded horrific crimes against other children on Aug. 11, a week before Kaylee died.

Also during that hearing, prosecutors said authorities were looking into the death of another child in the home in January 2020. Cherry’s attorney objected to mentioning that death in court, but 10 On Your Side later confirmed the investigation with Norfolk police.

Norfolk police said a 1-year-old boy had been found unresponsive in the home Jan. 16, 2020. He died on Jan. 20, 2020 at a hospital.

That case was being investigated as an “undetermined death,” and Cherry hadn’t been charged in connection with that incident. In September, Norfolk police directed 10 On Your Side to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the 1-year-old’s cause and manner of death; however, the Tidewater District Administrator Donna Price declined to release information without the child’s name.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.

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