Chickashanews.com

October 25, 2012

Local day care employee investigated for child abuse

James Bright
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — An employee at a local day care facility is under investigation by the Chickasha Police Department after a child left the school with a broken arm.

WeeCare - the facility where the incident allegedly occurred - is affiliated with the First Assembly of God church in Chickasha. Senior Pastor Paul Knight said employee Kaitlyn Murphy has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a Chickasha Police Department investigation.

"She has not been in the building since that incident," he said.  

Murphy is being investigated for potentially breaking the arm of 13-month-old Gunner McConnell.

Chickasha Police Department Major Elip Moore said CPD does not comment on ongoing investigations for fear of interfering with the investigation and released the following statement.

"The Chickasha Police Department is investigating a complaint of child abuse at the We Care child care center.  The case under investigation is very sensitive and details of the case will not be made public during the investigation. The integrity of the investigation will remain intact to assure a complete and accurate account of the allegations, while protecting the victim(s).  Officers have hours of video surveillance tape to review, along with more interviews to take place. Once our investigation is completed we will present the case to the DA’s office for filing charges."  

The child's mother, Desira Gwin, said she received a phone call on Oct. 18 from WeeCare Director Mandi Woods who stated that her son's arm was injured.

"I freaked out like any mom would," Gwin said.

Gwin then called McConnell's father who promptly took him to the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital. According to Gwin, her son's father called her shortly after picking their son up to let her know his arm was broken.

Following that, she received what she described as a shocking call from a doctor as the hospital.

"The doctor called me and told me to pull over since I was driving," Gwin said. "He said 'I'm going to tell you something that will scare you. The kind of break Gunner has is an intentional break. It's not something he could have gotten crawling around or by falling.'"

McConnell was diagnosed with a spiral fracture above his left elbow, said Gwin.

"The bone was completely broken in half and the doctor said it was caused by force," Gwin said.

There is video surveillance in every room according to Knight, and some of that video was handed over to CPD to help with the investigation.

"We have 14 cameras in the building and we are getting ready to add two more," Knight said.

There is no set schedule for reviewing the tapes according to Knight, but he said his employees do review the footage several times a week.

"If a child is crying and Mandi can hear it, she will pull up the feed and see what's going on," he said.

Woods said as soon as she heard Gunner crying she went in the classroom to check on him and called Gwin shortly after.

Both Knight and Woods said this is an isolated incident and they are both shocked by the occurence.

"We have both shed tears over this," Knight said.

Gwin has a daughter that also attends WeeCare and she said she plans to send her son back within the next week.

"WeeCare is all around great day care," Gwin said.

Haily Satterwhite also has a child that attends WeeCare. She said she was shocked by news of the incident.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard what happened," she said. "It's sad and I hope people will be able to look past this eventually because they have always been good."

Knight emphasized that despite this incident, WeeCare and First Assembly will continue their mission of caring for all people.

"We put our babies first, then our employees. We try to care for them too," Knight said. "We will do anything we can to help our employees."

There are currently 18 people employed at WeeCare and close to 80 children that attend the facility for daycare.