McKinney Daycare Death Back Under Investigation

More than a year after a three month old baby was found dead in a McKinney daycare, the investigation into her death has been reopened.

Tommy and Ami Davis have spent every month since fighting for information about baby Ellie's death.

"It's a ping pong of going back and forth trying to figure out where the gap is in the system and how her death happened. Right now there's no accountability," said Ami.

As their youngest, the couple says Ellie had been in the licensed home daycare they'd previously trusted with their older daughter only three weeks when they got a call that she was unresponsive.

In a report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Ellie was laid down on the floor of the nursery shortly after being fed around 10 a.m. She was left alone while one caregiver was in another room with the other babies in their care. The other was in the kitchen preparing for lunch.

From there, reports vary how long she was left unattended, somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. When she was checked on again, Ellie had flipped to her stomach and was no longer breathing.

"No one could hear if she cried out because neither of them were within seeing or hearing distance," said Ami.

Though CPR was attempted, the Davis's say Ellie was gone before first responders could arrive and before they got the chance to say goodbye.

The medical examiner ruled Ellie's death Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome, or SUIDS, a term used when the cause is not obvious. The autopsy also stated positional asphyxiation could have been a contributing factor.

McKinney police ruled Ellie's death accidental. Soon after, the Davis's received a report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services saying investigators couldn't find enough evidence to substantiate neglect.

"I think we were both, you know, confused, just because we kept reading about what is criminal negligence? What is negligence in the state of Texas? And it always says a normal prudent person. They knew better than to walk away from a three month old, and so I couldn't understand how it wasn't neglectful supervision," said Ami. 

They also felt a report from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission was conflicting. That entity, which is responsible for licensing child care facilities, stated "Had the caregiver been able to supervise appropriately (seeing/hearing to intervene if necessary) or had placed the child in the room with the other children, the caregiver would've been able to intervene to turn the child back on the child's back."

For that the caretakers received a high deficiency, though it won't prevent them from operating another child care facility within the state.

Still, the Davis's have continued to fight. And within the last month, they received news Ellie's case had a new investigator and would be reopened. 

"She said we're going to reopen it because there are things that haven't been answered that should've been answered in the first investigation," said Ami. 

This time, the Davis's hope discrepancies within the hefty stacks of paperwork dealing with Ellie's death will finally be settled. That includes figuring out exactly how long she was left alone, whether she'd been placed on her back when caregivers noted she'd been working to turn over or laid down for "tummy time." They also want to know why she wasn't moved to the room the other babies were in with a caretaker. 

They're also pushing for the caregivers cited for posting to Facebook multiple times the day of Ellie's death, while they had nine children in their care.

State guidelines prohibit caregivers from using personal devices that could serve as a distraction. 

Until now, DFPS reports stated their weren't time stamps for the posts.

Ultimately, they hope to finally get a ruling of neglect.

"That's the only way that these two caregivers can never have a daycare in the state of Texas. There needs to be a consequence when you make decisions that affect someone's life," said Ami. 

The Davis's hope Ellie's story can also help bring about other changes when it comes to the regulation of daycares. 

They say they didn't know the caregivers had two licenses and past deficiencies at their McKinney location. They believe both of those are pieces of information that should be provided to parents when they're making decisions about who to trust with their children.

The caregivers ended up closing the daycare immediately after Ellie's death. NBC5 reached out to them for comment, but didn't hear back.

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