NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Norfolk police have charged a woman with second degree murder in the death of a toddler.
Police say Emily DeFries, 24, told police she was babysitting the 20-month-old victim and two other children Sunday at a home in the 7000 block of Gregory Drive. She told police she periodically checked on the little girl, who had been sleeping upstairs. She claimed she found the victim at the bottom of the stairs then called 911.
The victim was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m. The Medical Examiner’s office determined the child died from blunt force trauma and ruled the case a homicide.
DeFries was arraigned Wednesday morning in Norfolk. WAVY News’ Lex Gray reported DeFries cried as the charge against her was read.
Neighbor Beverly Broadus saw medics carrying the child to the ambulance. Disturbed by what she saw, Broadus walked over to the home to ask what was wrong.
“She seemed to be upset. She was crying, trying to hold it together, for the most part,” said Broadus, describing DeFries’ demeanor. “She seemed to be pretty upset.”
Broadus said DeFries told her the same story she told police.
“She said the child fell down the steps, and I gave her a hug and told her my mom lives across the street and if she needed anything to knock on the door,” Broadus said, promising to return to check on the child. “I did come back the next day and nobody came to the door.”
No one came to the door when 10 On Your Side knocked Tuesday afternoon.
Neighbors say the military couple had just moved in within the last few months. Posts on DeFries’ Facebook page say she just got engaged Sunday — the same day she called 911, the same day the toddler died.
“As a parent, my heart goes out to them, to the parents of the toddler,” said Reymita Smith, a neighbor. “That’s a very sad situation. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Defries denied WAVY.com’s request for a jailhouse interview Tuesday.
A bond hearing was set for May 27.