Parents accused of ‘Worst case of neglect’ have over 20 animals seized
Meanwhile, the child’s aunt is speaking out, saying she does not believe her brother and sister-in-law are murderers
GAFFNEY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A father and mother in Cherokee County are facing murder charges following the death of their daughter with disabilities, according to Cherokee County officials.
On May 2, 2022, Cherokee County Animal Control confirmed that 20 to 30 animals were seized from their property. No other information about the animals was released, but we are working to learn more.
Cherokee Coroner Dennis Fowler said on April 29, “it’s the absolute worst case of child neglect I’ve seen in my 15 and half years as coroner of Cherokee County,”
According to the Coroner’s Office, they were called to Spartanburg Regional Hospital for a child’s death on April 11.
The child was identified as a 14-year-old girl named Heather who had numerous disabilities and health issues.
We’re told the girl’s parents drove her to the hospital where she was unresponsive upon arrival. Despite the doctor’s efforts, she was sadly pronounced dead at 9:32 p.m. by physicians. Due to the coroner being informed by physicians of possible neglect, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was called to assist.
“It was very clear and obvious to me once I began my examination of this handicapped child that there was severe neglect on the part of her caregivers,” Fowler told FOX Carolina. “Her personal hygiene--both long term and short term--had been ignored. It was also evident of poor living conditions.”
The coroner said evidence showed that there was a period of time when the parents went more than a year without seeking medical attention for their child. This neglect led to serious medical conditions that ultimately caused the girl’s death on April 11.
“Unfortunately, this is one of the worst cases of child abuse and neglect that I’ve ever seen and it certainly led to the death of the child,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller. “These are the types of cases that truly pull on our heartstrings.”
On April 12, deputies say a search warrant was executed on the family’s home on Camp Ferry Road in Gaffney as part of their investigation.
In a news conference Sheriff Mueller said: “They found the home to be in deplorable conditions. The home was full of feces, urine, flies, maggots, and roaches. The conditions in this home required officers in the crime scene unit to use Tyvek suits and respirators in order for them to process the scene for evidence in this case.”
The coroner’s office said the state of the home contributed to the findings of severe neglect.
After 2 weeks of investigating, officials say an arrest warrant was obtained for both the mother, Bobbie Jo Baynard, and father, David Eugene Baynard, who were charged with murder.
But one relative who spoke to FOX Carolina disagrees that David and Bobbie Jo are murderers.
“My brother and my sister in law loved this little girl,” said Diane Tate, sister of David Baynard. “They loved her with all their heart. They gave up so much. A lot over the years to take care of her.”
Diane says she believes her brother and sister-in-law would never intentionally hurt their daughter, though she also admitted she hadn’t been to their house in almost 2 years due to COVID risks and Heather’s fragile immune system.
“I can’t speak to what the home was like inside,” she said, adding that she was told by the family to stay away on doctor’s orders.
“There’s no law in this world that would make me believe that my brother and his wife would kill their daughter,” Tate said.
Both parents were arrested and taken to the Cherokee County Detention center on the afternoon of April 28.
This investigation remains ongoing and the sheriff says additional charges are likely. Stay with FOX Carolina for updates.
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