The father of a 12-week-old girl who died Oct. 8 while in the care of her aunt said the infant seemed fine when he and his wife left to go on their night shifts. Afterward, they believed for a couple of days that daughter Mia Fry had died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), Jeremy Fry testified in General Sessions Court on Tuesday morning.
Then he said word came from the medical examiner's office that she had severe blunt trauma to the head.
The aunt, Jessica Lynne Fax, was arrested a short time later. Her criminal homicide charge was bound to the Grand Jury after a hearing before Judge Johnny Houston. Judge Houston left her bond at $125,000.
She is being held at the Bradley County Jail because the child's mother, Mary Ann Fry, is a supervisor at the women's unit at Silverdale.
Ms. Fax, whose own daughter was at the house where the infant died at times kept her head bowed during the hearing, raising it only at the end when Judge Houston asked her if she had any questions. She said, "No."
Jeremy Fry said Ms. Fax, the wife of the brother of Mary Ann Fry, lived across the street on Fort Sumter Drive and had babysat for the couple a few times before with no problems.
He said he played with Mia and saw her eat prior to going to his night job. He said she had a problem with soft tissue in her tracheal area when she was born and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two weeks, but appeared fine that morning.
He said everyone was asleep when he got back home about 7 a.m. He said Ms. Fax woke up about 8 a.m. and his wife arrived home about 8:30 a.m.
He said he finally went to check on Mia because she appeared to be sleeping longer than normal. She was in a portable crib in his and his wife's bedroom, where Ms. Fax had slept.
The father said, "She didn't seem to be moving. Then I noticed that she was cold. She had a grayish color. She didn't look right."
He said he asked Ms. Fax to call 911 and he started doing CPR on the baby in the living room. He said when emergency personnel arrived, they told him "there was nothing they could do." The child was eventually taken straight to the medical examiner's office.
Mr. Fry said when he first carried Mia downstairs and said she was not responding, Ms. Fax said, "Oh, no, no, no." He said she took the other girls in the house out back so they would not witness the situation with Mia. The Frys also have girls ages 6, 4 and almost 2.
The child's mother said she talked several times with Ms. Fax in the two days prior to the child's death and before her arrest.
She said at the time, "We all thought it was SIDS."
Det. Rick Whaley said when he arrived at the home around 10 a.m. the child was in rigor mortis. He said that sets in 6-8 hours after death, putting the time of death at from 2-4 a.m.
He said there was no visible trauma on the child. But he later received a call from the medical examiner's office and was told, "You had better get down here."
The county detective said the autopsy had shown multiple blunt trauma to the baby's head. He said there were "some serious skull fractures." There was an overlay of spider-web cracks on the side of the skull and a major egg-shell crack that went almost across the top of the skull.
He said Ms. Fax then agreed to come in and be interviewed. He said she first said she knew of no injury to the baby, then she later said that Mia had dropped head first out of her lap onto the living room floor. She said she was fine afterward and ate before going down.
The detective said the carpet in the living room is heavily padded and the injuries could not have been caused by such a fall.
He said the autopsy showed the child's stomach empty. He said she would not have been able to have eaten after suffering the blows to the head.