2 accused of child abuse after toddler in their care dies

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by Catherine Holland and Mike Gertzman

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 14 at 10:09 AM

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PHOENIX -- Two people are facing child abuse charges in connection with the death of a toddler at an unlicensed day-care business in Phoenix.

Police and paramedics were called to the home near 48th Street and Roeser Road Tuesday morning. Somebody had called 911 to report a child who was not breathing. Savannah Cross, who would have turned 3 in about two weeks, was taken to a local hospital where doctors pronounced her dead.

Police said there were obvious injuries to her body.

The couple who had been caring for Savannah full time since October were questioned and later arrested.

According to Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police Department, Ryan Reed, 27, "admitted to abusing the victim on numerous occasions by striking, kicking, and roughly grabbing the victim."

In particular, Reed admitted that on Monday night he attempted to walk over Savannah, but wound up accidentally stomping her.

She was grabbing her stomach in pain, but Reed said he left Savannah in her playpen that night even though she was making groaning sounds.

Crump said Allison Clement, 28, told investigators that she witnessed the abuse, but did nothing to help Savannah.

Both Reed and Clement were booked on felony child abuse charges.

Additional counts could be filed once the medical examiner determines exactly how Savannah died.

Two children, ages 8 and 5, belonging to Reed and Clement are now in the care of Child Protective Services.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Child Care Licensing, the home where Savannah had been staying with Reed and Clement is not licensed as a day-car facility. However, Arizona law allows a home care program to have four children and be legal. The providers' own children do not count in that number.

"We don't have any jurisdiction or any reason to license them, or go out and inspect them at this point," said Dr. Cara Christ with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

A spokeswoman said records show no indication of past complaints against the address.

Crump said since leaving her little daughter with Reed and Clement, Savannah's mother "showed up occasionally and paid them for the care of the child."

Reed and Clement are both due back in court on Dec. 19.

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