A 20-year-old former Delaware daycare worker faces the prospect of decades to life behind bars after pleading guilty to murder in the death of a 4-month-old girl and the abuse of four other children who were in her care.
Dejoynay M. Ferguson of New Castle pleaded guilty to murder by abuse in the first degree, six counts of child abuse in the first degree, and two counts of child abuse in the second degree, the Delaware Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.
“Following an extensive investigation by the Delaware State Police Homicide Unit and the Delaware Department of Justice, a grand jury indicted Dejoynay Ferguson in July for the repeated abuse and murder of a child, and the abuse of four other children in her care at a daycare facility where she was employed,” the press release said. “Ferguson’s plea includes an acknowledgement of guilt for the murder, along with the other abuse alleged in the State’s indictment.”
The state said that a date for sentencing has not been set, but if and when that sentencing occurs Ferguson faces 27 years to life in prison.
A July 2020 indictment of Ferguson alleged a stunning number of felony criminal counts, including for murder. All told, the grand jury indicted Ferguson for 53 felonies (48 of those were for child abuse in the first degree).
A press release said at the time that Ferguson was “alleged to have suffocated a 4-month-old child to death and to have abused that child and four other children between July 16 and September 5, 2019.”
Law&Crime reported in Sept. 2019 that officers responded to the Little People Child Development Center in New Castle County on Sept. 5, a Thursday. A 4-month-old, who was unresponsive, ended up being declared dead at a hospital.
Ferguson, the child’s assigned caregiver, put her hands over the girl’s mouth and nose in order to restrict her breathing on purpose, investigators said. The defendant put the victim back in a crib after the girl became unresponsive. Ferguson told the daycare’s owner about the unresponsive baby about 20 minutes later, police said. A 911 call was made.
Police said surveillance footage showed Ferguson picking up a crying infant by the front of the shirt and putting her on a changing table, Delaware Online reported. Wearing latex gloves, Ferguson allegedly put her hands on the baby’s face for over three minutes.
According to cops, Ferguson said she grabbed the baby by the shirt because the infant was “fussy” and wouldn’t stop crying.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[Mugshot via Delaware State Police]
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