By Ashley Mazerolle, Marketing —
A parent’s worst nightmare is having a child pass away. As a mother, I have heard horror stories of abusive sitters and caretakers of young children. Thankfully, I have wonderful childcare for my little one, but the parents of Billy Blankenship and Mariah Sisco were not as fortunate.
Tumble Down the Stairs
On November 15, 1990, a 2-year old Billy Blankenship, was reported to have taken a fall down the stairs. Tawny Sue Gunter, the woman caring for Billy at the time, claimed she had told the child to stay in the basement while she went upstairs and made lunch. Tragically, Billy fell down the stairs (according to Gunter) and suffered a skull fracture which left him brain-dead.
Eight years later, in 1998, Gunter was caring for 3-month-old Mariah Sisco. One day Mariah’s mom, Amy, received a frantic phone call from Gunter who stated that she was not breathing on her own.
“There was no evidence of trauma or injury. It seemed like it was SIDS; that’s all the [medical examiner] could determine,” recalls Dr. Lori Frasier, a Pennsylvania child-abuse pediatrics specialist who worked in Missouri at the time. “But it alerted people that this was the second death of a child in this same setting [with Gunter].”
Officials decided to re-open an investigation into the death of Billy Blankenship. The medical examiner’s assessment concluded that his brain and skull injuries were inconsistent with a fall down the stairs.
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