Thomas Cunningham, Ciera Gillespie charged in infant deaths

Thomas W Cunningham and Ciera N Gillespie

Thomas W Cunningham and Ciera N Gillespie

The parents of two young children in West Virginia were arrested last week after both children died from apparent cases of concussion. authorities announced. Thomas W Cunningham and Ciera N. Gillespie were arrested in connection with the deaths of their 1-year-old and 2-year-old sons and charged with multiple crimes.

Cunningham, 27, is facing one child abuse case resulting in death and one child abuse case resulting in serious bodily harm. prison records Show. Gillespie, 25, was loaded with a count each of child neglect that results in death and child neglect that creates a risk of serious injury or death.

The children were both taken to hospital in late November with serious injuries that appeared to be the result of ill-treatment. The 2-year-old boy was pronounced dead on arrival, while the 1-year-old remained in critical condition until succumbing to his injuries over the weekend, the children’s grandmother said allegedly to KPTV, a subsidiary of Portland Fox.

Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Mueller The channel reportedly said authorities expect additional charges to be brought against both parents in the wake of the 1-year-old boy’s death.

A copy of the criminal complaint says Gillespie went to the store on November 28, leaving Cunningham at home with the two victims and their 6-year-old child. She reportedly told investigators that when she left the children in Cunningham’s care, she believed he was “under the influence of a controlled substance.” Cunningham reportedly confirmed to police later that day that he had “used Percocet to get high” before watching the children.

As Gillespie pulled into the driveway, she reportedly said she received a call from Cunningham telling her there was “something wrong” with their 2-year-old.

Upon entering the home, Gillespie reportedly said Cunningham placed the boy in her arms and the child was “limp, blood was coming from the mouth and nose”. Cunningham reportedly called 911.

First responders reportedly got in touch with Gillespie, who boarded the ambulance with the 2-year-old at the scene. Before they left the home, however, Cunningham reportedly “ran” out of the apartment with the couple’s 1-year-old child, saying “there was something wrong with that baby too.”

Doctors reportedly pronounced the 2-year-old dead shortly after he arrived at JW Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and told investigators they believed his cause of death was shake baby syndrome. A doctor reportedly said the child’s retinal injuries were “the worst he’d seen in 20 years.” Retinal hemorrhages are a typical indication of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The same doctor also reportedly told investigators that the 1-year-old suffered similar “significant” injuries consistent with “violent trauma” likely caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The couple were taken into custody following an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia State Police and the Mountain Lake Drug and Violent Crime Taskforce and are being held at the West Virginia Regional Jail.

While Cunningham was being held without bail, Gillespie was being held on $200,000 bail.

[Images via Upshur County Sheriff’s Office]

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