Child death at home daycare investigated as homicide

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Police say they're investigating the death of a two-year-old girl at a residential daycare business on Tuesday as a homicide.

Officers and paramedics responded to the home where the child was staying, near 48th St. and Roeser Rd., after someone called 911 at about 7 a.m.

When emergency crews arrived they took over CPR from one of the caregivers. The child was transported to Maricopa Medical Center where she died.

"There is some obvious trauma to this small child," said Sgt. Trent Crump with the Phoenix Police Dept. "We will get a search warrant, enter the home and begin to investigate."

There is a daycare business operating in that home. Sgt. Crump said the service had been advertised on Craigslist.

The child had been dropped off there a few months ago and her mother rarely came to visit, according to police.

"We understand that the child that has died here this morning was dropped off here as early as about July and that the parent has shown up here a few times since that time period to pick up the child and to pay for the care giving services that are going on here," said Sgt. Crump.

Police say they have located the mother and she is being questioned by investigators.

The husband and wife who operate the daycare business, Ryan Reed and Allison Clement, are being questioned by investigators. There have been no arrests in the case at this point.

There were five children, including the victim, in the home when the incident occurred. The children range in age from about 2 to 8. Police said the 8-year-old and 5-year-old are brother and sister and are the caregivers' biological children.

The other two children were dropped off by different individuals and may have also been at the home for several days.

"Some people dropped off kids and just left them there," said one neighbor who declined to be identified.

When asked about a suspect in the death of the child, Sgt. Crump said, "I don't have a suspect for you at this point. I will just tell you that those who are providing the care at this home and any parent who is leaving their child or abandoning their child here will be talked to by us."

As for the mother of the girl who died, Sgt. Crump said police interviewed her.  However he wouldn't comment on what she said about why the girl had been staying at the home for so long.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Child Care Licensing, the home in question is not licensed. Hoever, Arizona law allows a home care program to have 4 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.

As of late Tuesday night, detectives remained at the home, processing the scene.  Police say they will continue to investigate the incident as a homicide until proven otherwise.

"Obviously it's of great concern to us, the condition we found the child in," said Sgt. Crump.  "It's of great concern something happened to this child that will be a criminal act."