I would like to introduce you to Kassie.
Hello, my name is Kassie and this is my story,
I was born Kassica Ashley Mary Harp on July 1, 1998. I had a wonderful, loving family who was very happy to have me in their lives. I loved my Mommy, Daddy, Ahma, I had a lot of other loving family members who took care of me and loved me with all their heart and soul too. I grew from a healthy baby girl into a little princess that was as prissy as a tom-girl could be. They loved me so much they let me get away with a lot of that. I loved it when they would play with me and do lots of fun things to make me happy. Mommy, Daddy and Ahma gave me lots of hugs and kisses and spoiled me rotten! Mommy called me Pumpkin and was I everything she had dreamed she’d want in a little girl. Daddy was completely wrapped around my finger and I loved to play with him. Ahma played with me and made me feel very special. Mommy would sing to me and we’d dance around the house, being so very silly and we’d laugh and laugh and laugh!
There was a man I knew my whole life. He was going to be my Mommies new husband and my new step-dad. This was a someone I would have never believed that would hurt anyone, much less me.
But he did.
He did something to me that should never happen to a child. Mommy, Daddy and Ahma will never know what all happened to me but I hurt really, really bad. He had shaken me really, really hard and I hit my head on something that gave me a very big skull fracture.
Mommy, Daddy and Ahma watched me get weaker and weaker in the hospital. I never could wake up to tell them I loved them. I knew Mommy was there and in the beginning could move my hands, arms and legs. When they would touch me and then stop, I would let them know I still wanted them to touch me, to show me they were there. But after awhile I got too tired and I couldn’t show them anymore that I wanted their touch and their love.
Mommy, Daddy and Ahma prayed and prayed that I would get better and be able to come home but God told me that I had a very special job to do in heaven. He told me that He would make sure that they knew He loved them even though they were broken hearted. God sent a beautiful angel to take me to heaven.
In heaven I didn’t hurt anymore. I wasn’t afraid anymore.
I miss my Family but I watch over them and let them know I love them when they miss me, which is a lot. I know that I will get to see them soon. I have a little brother named Wyatt now and I watch over him too. I can’t wait until my family gets here so I can show them around and take them to meet God.
I know what my special job is that God wanted me to do.
God wants me to help stop other children from being hurt.
By letting people know what happened to me maybe I can help stop other children from being hurt or having their life taken away from them too.
I was only 22 months old when I was taken away to heaven.
I didn’t get to learn how to swim.
I didn’t get to have slumber parties.
I didn’t get to go to school and make friends, go to dances, get my first kiss by a boy I liked.
I didn’t get to meet my special someone and have my fairytale wedding.
I didn’t get to know what it was like to be a Mommy, holding my babies and watching them grow.
Please, please! Help stop these horrible actions against children.
Please help stop child abuse. Please.
July 1, 1998 ~ April 21, 2000
I would like to introduce you to Jack.
It was the happiest day of my life. After 10 years of infertility, thousands of dollars in IVF bills and a previous successful IVF cycle my husband and I were pregnant again but this time with twins. We were terrified but elated. The pregnancy was complicated by bedrest but in the end, we had two perfectly healthy boys. As a Neonatal intensive care nurse, I had experienced my share of caring for multiples. I had been an RN for over 8 years when my sons were born. My husband had not. We already had a daughter who was extremely difficult and suffered from autism, but nothing would prepare us for two at once.
It didn’t take long to notice something was not right with my husband. Shortly after delivery he became depressed and disinterested in helping me care for the boys. He would complain they cried too much and were “annoying”. They wouldn’t take a bottle for him as they were primarily breastfed, but I had to return to work when they were 5 weeks old to make ends meet.
Around 6 weeks of age I noticed I would come home from work and son Jack had small bruises on his body. At 9 weeks, the bruising was noted on his tongue, genitals and ears. At this point utter exhaustion had taken me between working, caring for a daughter with autism and twin sons. I noticed the bruising but couldn’t guess what it might be from. My intention was to take my son to the doctor as soon as I could. At 10 weeks both boys cried constantly for many days and appeared to be in pain. I thought they may have a milk allergy, so I consulted with my lactation consultant friends. The bruising had gone away, and the pediatrician had been following my children closely, so I thought nothing of it.
When my sons were 11 weeks of age, I came home, and my husband told me he had “tripped over the dog” and he fell on top of Henry. “My son had a bump on the back of his head and appeared to have a concussion. He vomited and was not acting himself. I immediately rushed him to the ER where I worked and had just left my shift for the day. After a CT scan and assessment, it revealed that my son had multiple skull fractures and subdural hematomas that were in various stages of healing. CPS immediately ordered me to leave the hospital and not have any contact with my three children. The terror I felt in that instant had left me paralyzed with fear. I was also ordered to bring his twin brother to the hospital immediately for evaluation. Of course, I complied, and after multiple x-rays, it was shown that Jack had 9 rib fractures in various stages of healing. My sons had been suffering child abuse at the hands of the man I had called my husband and life partner for the better part of 17 years. I would spend the next 6 months of my life dealing with lawyers, CPS and terrifying PTSD that I am still recovering from to this day. I lost custody of my three children as they looked towards me as a suspect. I had been protecting the lives of medically fragile children at that time for over 8 years as an RN in the intensive care unit. This was devastating to me.
My ex-husband eventually admitted to shaking my son Jack and he claims he does not remember how Henry sustained his head injury. Both boys were squeezed to the point of broken ribs and he even threw an object at Jack creating a large laceration on his eyebrow. The scar will never go away. All of this was going on while I was a work. I didn’t know.
After reading multiple posts regarding SBS, my sons were both extremely lucky to have survived this type of abuse. Jack has a TBI as a result of being shaken. He cannot focus while at school, he is impulsive and has even had the police involved with him at a tender age of 7. His MRI shows multiple areas of damage to his brain. He is currently going through early puberty due to the brain injury. He is on medication to allow him to function and complete everyday tasks. Henry thankfully has not shown signs of a TBI yet.
No family should have to go through what my children and I have gone through and no family is exempt. I am a highly educated woman from a middle-class family. I owned a home; had everything I needed and was married to my high school sweetheart. He had no previous criminal record and was a wonderful father to our daughter. Not in a million years had I dreamt this could happen to me. I had educated families for years in the hospital about preventing SBS, even having them sign a “commitment” form before discharge promising not to shake their child. My ex-husband signed that form when we left the hospital too.
Overnight I lost my husband, my home and my children. Everything I had was gone. The terror of those days will haunt me forever. I will never be the same. More needs to be done in the community to help families, especially those families with risk factors. No-one is exempt.
I would like to introduce you to Eva.
Eva’s story begins with love and empathy and grace, as our story’s outcome is so much brighter than it could have been. Our beautiful second daughter was born July 26, 2019. Excited and overwhelmed with our newest addition, we began to adjust to our new life. Eva was born with a common but alarming condition called Pyloric Stenosis, when the pylorus muscle blocks food from entering the small intestine. Her condition was unknown for the first five weeks of her life, within those weeks, she became severely dehydrated and underweight. We were beyond horrified that we had let her condition slip under the radar for so long, treating acid reflux and colic for too long. After an intense stay at the Children’s hospital and an incredibly fast and successful surgery, Eva smiled for the first time in her life and kept a bottle down like a champ. We returned home, weary but elated, thinking this was the scariest thing we ad ever endured with one of our children. Fast forward a few happy months. October approached so fast, and my leave was ending soon. I prepared myself as much as I could to leave my baby and get back to work. After the surgery, I was extra sad to be leaving her but ultimately eager to get back to my work and friends. We crunched some numbers in Early summer, and decided that 2 kids full time at the center we used for childcare was out of our budget. We made the incredibly hard decision to say goodbye and look for an in-home option to cut some costs. After searching everywhere, I came upon a local in-home provider that lived within a mile of our home, and her cost was right where we needed to be. I spent time at her home, asking all the questions I could possibly think of and carefully observing how my oldest daughter reacted to her. It all seemed too good to be true. She was a sweet woman, with 2 small children of her own and a beautiful town home. On my third day back to work, a Wednesday, I woke up late and feeling very off. I rushed my girls out of the house and basically dropped them and ran at the daycare. I felt so awful, as I always do when I have to rush. This day was even harder, both my girls were sad and my oldest begged me to stay. I hurriedly told her I would see her later and rushed to my car and off to work. I spent my whole day feeling guilty and sad, endlessly texting the daycare provider for pictures and updates and counting down the second I could punch out and pick them up. I left work the instant the clock turned 4 pm. I didn’t make a single other stop, just rushed to pick up my girls and hug them tight. When I got to the daycare, the provider was standing in her hallway, nowhere near the kids. I let myself in and seemed to catch her off guard. I looked up the stairs to see my oldest standing there, crying out for me to get her. The provider ran off to a room I could not see. She came out of the room holding my 3 month old Eva. Eva didn’t look at me. She cried small, tired sounding cries and I immediately observed her skin color looking so pale she was a color of gray. I knew something wasn’t right and started asking questions. I asked if she slept well and if she seemed sick to the daycare provider. She replied over and over that “Eva napped okay and seemed in good spirits all day.” I assumed Eva was tired or coming down with something, so I quickly packed her up and took her home to further observe her. Once we were home, Eva only seemed to look worse and worse. Her color was so bad, so unhealthy looking and she just cried and cried like she was in distress. I paced around, trying to comfort her and trying to decide if I wanted her to be seen by her Dr. My first thoughts were that maybe it was a complication from surgery, or a really bad illness. As i wrestled with calling the Dr., as it was now nearly 6pm, she began uncontrollably vomiting. This was not her normal spit up and she had no fever. I rushed her to the clinic where we were able to get into her primary Dr. right away. Our Dr. was alarmed by her vomiting and skin color. She ran test after test, blood, chest xray and so on. We sat for hours not able to reach a conclusion. The only memorable note from that appointment was that her hemoglobin was very abnormal and it alarmed the Dr. We were sent to the Children’s hospital immediately, concluding that there was something that our local hospital was not equipped to find. In the ER, i held my baby as they drew blood sample after blood sample, asking me what felt like a million questions. I was convinced it was her stomach, an infection from surgery or a re occurrence. I demanded that they run an ultrasound to make sure. The ER Dr. kept pushing for a CT scan, and I could not understand why but I ended up agreeing after her ultrasound came back healthy and normal. After hours of tests, and a long and painful CT scan, the ER Dr. came back into our room. She looked at me wearily and held my hand. She talked slow and tears rolled down her face. I could not hear her words, I only saw her mouth move. She said over and over ” Angie, do you know what this means? Your daughter has a traumatic brain injury, consistent with someone shaking her.” I cannot really recall what I said or did right after that. I held Eva close as they wheeled us up to Intensive care. I remember words like Police, and child services, blindness and MRI. I felt like the world just ended, my body just shattered, by life was over. We did not know initially how severe the brain bleeds were and what other damage was done. The medical staff was unsure if she could see at all and warned me that she may have extensive eye damage. The days blurred, as teams of medical staff came by, one after the other, to do terrifying and uncomfortable tests. Eva had 2 subderal hemotomas and severe hemorrhaging of her retinas. I recall being investigated, my entire family and one of my best friends being investigated. I remember the endless days away from my husband and older daughter, suffocating in anguish and fear as the tests rolled on and the bleeding continued. Eva was diagnosed with non-accidental brain injury. The child abuse specialist assured us that this was no accident, and this happened within the last day of me bringing her in. After many investigations, we all figured out that her abuser was her daycare provider. Eva improved over the 7 days we spent in the ICU. Her vision came into focus and her bleeding and fluid build up stabilized. Her responsiveness got better and better and she even began smiling and batting at toys for us in the hospital. She was released after 7 long days with no foreseeable complications, except for neurological irritability or as the doctors referred to it as “neurological storm” where she would become frightened and inconsolable for seemingly no reason, other than her abused brain was healing. To this day, I cannot believe how lucky Eva is, how lucky and blessed we all are. The doctors repeatedly had to assure me that they can see no real lasting damage. We weaned her off the pain meds for irritability and Eva is thriving beyond anyone’s expectations. I still find it hard to trust the outcome completely. My traumatized brain somedays still believes something could happen to her. It is by far the most awful experience I have ever endured and that trauma will forever live in my body. Eva is our miracle baby, so strong and relentless. She is an active, crawling baby, determined to meet and exceed expectations daily. This act of abuse and the countless others I have read continue to sicken and anger me. There is no excuse to hurt a child. I have no sympathy for anyone who hurts a child, no matter how severe. Eva’s abuser is in the process of being convicted, a Class H Felony. No punishment will ever fill the hole in my heart and faith, but we are grateful to see her face consequences. The current global pandemic has pushed Eva’s abuser’s court date way out, so she can walk free for several more months. My family and i await the day when perhaps some justice will be served. For now, we share our story in hopes to bring awareness and we pray and fight for all the other children who have a story like Eva’s. We know how lucky we got, and we thank the heavens and the earth, the stars and the moon for the blessing we were given.
I would like to introduce you to Mykah.
The worst day of my life was Tuesday May 2,2013.
Mykah was only 5 months old when I received a call from his in-home child care provider telling me to get to her house right away because one of the kids were hurt. (At the time I didn’t have a car so I was on the light rail across town applying for child care vouchers because I could no longer afford her services out of pocket). She was so non-chalant so I just assumed one of the kids had an accident. As I was on the light rail the call dropped. When I was able to get to a location with clear signal I called her back to ask her what was going on. She told me she fell down the steps with Kai in the car seat. She then told ask me if I wanted her to go to the hospital with Kai because she didn’t know if she should let him go alone or stay with him. (I told her of course go with him! He’s an infant and terrified) At that point my heart dropped instantly wondering what happened to my baby? After a light rail ride, subway ride & bus ride I finally arrived to the hospital where Kai was transported to. (She hadn’t arrived yet,so clearly she allowed him to go ALONE!) I walked into the hospital room & saw 5 doctors surrounding my baby. He was placed on a breathing tube! My heart broke again. I asked numerous times what happened? (They told me she told the paramedics he had a seizure, she never told me specifically what happened other than that she fell) None of the doctors would answer me! After a period of begging, crying and yelling a doctor finally pulled me to the side and told me they suspected a brain injury but because they didn’t specialize in pediatrics Kai needed to be transported to Johns Hopkins hospital. (The doctors told me there was no way this was a result of a fall while he was in the car seat. She shook him & to my face numerous times) At this point I’m scared and couldn’t imagine what my baby could be going through. Fast forward Kai spent 8 days in the hospital and I was told he suffered retinal hemerage & subdural hematoma. During the first 48 hours they had him hooked up to so many tubes. I couldnt even hold him. He was never a ‘crier’ but seeing him laying in that bed crying, uncomfortable & it was nothing I could do about it was one of the worst feelings I had experienced in my life. During his hospital stay Child Protective services were called. They interrogated me telling me they needed to have an investigation because they needed to determine if I or his child care provider hurt him. I had to take a polygraph test and I was told I wasn’t allowed with my baby alone for a week! They then told me (after a week) it was confirm she had hurt him!
Fast forward to now Kai is now 7 years old, has NO major affects from his injuries! He’s in the first grade doing amazing! He has a few delays but he doesn’t allow them to hold him back from anything! I’ve always said and always will say he is my miracle baby!
I would like to introduce you to Kylee.
Kylee Ann Frankenberry was born January 29, 2000, a 3pound 12 ounce beautiful little girl. Being 2 months early she showed no signs of any problem with her early arrival. She grew and developed normally until the day a demon took her future and almost her life at 5 months old.
June 21, 2000 was the day that that changed the lives of a family, a community and a precious little girl.
On June 21,2000 the one person who should have protected Kylee, instead tried to end her short life. Kylee’s birth mother, Julie Lloyd-Shears, shook Kylee, shook her for an unknown amount of time, as reports of her admitting what happened changed each time ranging from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. After shaking her, she hit her head off the changing table and laid her down and walked away. Per her own words she went and did the dishes before rechecking on her. Doing dishes…a few or was it a sinkful? A few minutes or 30 plus? No one knows but her. Upon rechecking on Kylee, and finding her unresponsive Julie called her in-laws first then 911 for assistance. Upon ambulance arrival Kylee was unconscious and unresponsive, almost gone. The talented hands of several of Cumberland City’s paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians brought Kylee back, and transported her to Cumberland Memorial Hospital where the ER staff continued to work to stabilize her. Upon doing a CT scan the doctors found 3 different aged hematomas’ in Kylee’s brain, meaning there was at least 3 different times that she was shaken to the degree to cause bleeding in her little brain. This time was the one time that had it been a few minutes longer, Kylee would not be here. Kylee was transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown WV where she received excellent care and after 2 days she was able to be taken off the ventilator, after a preacher prayed for her in the hospital with dad, and continued to fight to survive and grew stronger each day. She then transferred to Health South rehab in Morgantown where she went through intensive therapies to make her stronger and to keep her moving forward so that after 2 months she could return home, and she did.
But sadly the Kylee that everyone knew and loved did die that day, and the new Kylee, the damage helpless Kylee was born. Every day since that day Kylee fights for her life. She fights to stay healthy, she fights to survive. Doctors initially said she would not live past two days due to the amount of damage done during the shaking, when she proved them wrong then they said she wouldn’t live past 2 weeks. And again she proved them wrong.
She came home with cardiac and oxygen monitors. She came home with new schedules and routines, Daily therapies, retraining of how to eat, braces on her feet and hands to help prevent contractures, medications around the clock. After a few weeks Kylee received home nursing care to help care for her and to give her father a break to be able to work and to sleep.
Over the next year, Kylee made many trips for Morgantown for appointment, surgeries, er trips, sometimes several trips in one day. Over this year, many new diagnosis’s were made /found stemming from the assault she endured. Retinal damage, blind, CP cerebral palsy, quadriplegia, reflux, silent aspiration, frequent pneumonia, seizures, failure to thrive , neurostorms, protein c deficiency, temperal disorder and the list goes on. She endured 3 surgeries from November 2000 to January 2001 Attempted retina repair that failed, G-tube placement and Nissan, and psoas and abductor tendon release to relieve hip tightening and dislocation. She had many hospitalizations for illnesses and random fevers. All while she and her family learned their new normal routines, medical terms, medications and treatments, and how to live with strangers in the home with the nurses 18 hours a day, therapists in several times a week, case workers, and nursing supervisors.
Over the next several years Kylee endured hundreds of doctor appointments, multiple hospitalizations, numerous medication changes, several more surgeries, daily therapies and treatments all while the family was trying to keep a somewhat normal life for her. But at the same time trying to protect her from illnesses as the common cold turns to pneumonia for her in less than 12 hours.
Kylee’s function level is that of about a 3 month old. She cannot sit up, walk or crawl, cannot roll over or feed herself. She cannot get up to go the bathroom therefore using diapers. She is fed by a G-tube feeding tube in her stomach. This is also how she receives most of her medications. She receives 2 shots a day for her clotting disorder and nebulizer treatments multiple times a day along with a chest percussion vest treatment for her respiratory issues. She has a Sub-q port under her skin in her upper chest that is an IV line with an implanted device for IV medications and fluids and to do her lab draws as she has to have blood work every 3 months. She has basically a hospital room for a bedroom. She has a hospital bed, wheelchair, hoya lift, nebulizer machine, airway clearance vest, feeding pump, suction machine, video monitor pulse ox monitor and numerous medical supplies, instead of normal kid/teenager décor and furniture or toys. She does not go to school, school comes to her via the home and hospital program through the Allegany county board of education, prior to that she was in infants and toddlers program through the Allegany county health department. And she has some very awesome nurses who take great care of her.
Now Kylee does have some favorite things that helps her get through all of this. She loves music mainly southern rock, skynard in particularly but music of just about any kind. She loves listening to dad play the guitar or base and sing to her. She loves age appropriate movies and tv shows, and novels read to her. She loves being at the beach and laughs like crazy when her siblings are getting yelled at. She loves being included in family gatherings, picnics, dinners, birthday parties, and having her nieces and nephews climb in bed with her and watch movies.
On May 12, 2009 Kylee officially gained a real mom. Her adoption by her step mom became official. She had been with her step mom and dad from the age of 7 months. She also gained 3 sisters and a brother. And together they all try to give her the best as close to normal life as they can, while at the same time modifying their own lives to meet her needs.
On June 16 2008 she gained her first of many nieces and nephews. Currently 8 total to date.
In 2018 Kylee “graduated” with her class. She was escorted by her sister Cassie for her graduation walk with the class that she was to go to school with. A huge milestone that we never thought she would reach. In 2021 she will age out of the school system special education program. The same time her younger sister graduates high school.
Every day Kylee proves someone wrong just as she always has through her life. She is a fighter and won’t give in on anything. As of writing this she has over 30 different diagnosis, 22+ different medications, multiple daily therapies, 9 different surgeries, and 10 hours daily of nursing care. And numerous close calls where we didn’t think she would survive through an illness with the last on being February 4 which required an ambulance trip to the ER with pneumonia, uti, electrolyte imbalance and respiratory failure. After 6 weeks of antibiotics, breathing treatments, steroids, continuous oxygen and frequent suctioning, she is just about over this nasty bout illness. Every day we have to protect her from “sick” people and “bugs” as any one illness could be the one that she does not recover from. Most SBS kids with the extent of brain damage that Kylee has do not survive past a few years. 20 year survival for this extent of damage is a rarity.
Now all of Kylee’s suffering over the past 20 years could have been avoided. All of this could have been prevented had she walked away. Had she put Kylee is a safe place and walked away or called someone for help instead of taking her frustration and anger out on a poor, innocent little baby. Shaken Baby Syndrome is completely preventable.
We get asked all the time what happened to the abuser? Is she in jail? No she is not in jail. She spent only 1 hour in custody for processing. $30,000 a good criminal defense attorney and favors cashed in to government officials, she was given a plea bargain down to misdemeanor, receiving 5 year suspended sentence, 5 year supervised probation which was modified at 2 and 21/2 year for “good behavior”, 5 years no contact, pay child support, pay for medical bills over and above the insurance, receive evaluation and treatment for mental and anger issues. She is living her life as a normal person in another state married with 2 additional children. Is this fair while Kylee lives with a life sentence that she did not deserve? NO its not. Kylee did nothing as a 5 month old baby to deserve this kind of life. To have to live with people taking care of all her basic needs for her.
All child abuse is preventable. We hear every day of new cases of abuse and shaken baby syndrome. This is totally unacceptable. Walk away, Call someone for help. Get help for your own mental health. These children deserve a happy safe life, not living in fear and neglect.