The grandmother said she punished the child because she was having a “bad day.”
Trigger warning: contains graphic pictures of the effect of child abuse which may be disturbing to some
Like many times she had done before, Brittany Smith left her daughter, Kaylee in the care of her fiance’s mother believing that she would come back to find her daughter the same way she had left her. However, after leaving Kaylee with the step-grandmother, Brittany came back to find her 2-year-old girl crying and screaming in agony.
That day, Brittany and her fiance, Kyle Vaughn had gone swimming at a local beauty spot with her two other children. And believing that Kaylee was too young to safely enjoy the spot, Brittany left her with Kyle’s mother, Jennifer Vaughn who had taken care of the little girl on several occasions without any issues.
After leaving Kaylee behind at the step grandmother’s house in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Brittany had left to go to the spot with Kyle and her children. But before they even reached their destination, Brittany received a phone call from Jennifer, telling her that she needed to come back to the house immediately.
“I got a phone call from Jennifer. I could hear Kaylee screaming in the background,” she told Metro. “She said that I had to come home right away. I asked her what had happened, but she wouldn’t tell me.”
The mother came back to Jennifer’s residence to find her baby girl crying out loud in pain. Her little feet were completely burned with large yellow blisters having formed from her toes all the way to her ankles.
At first, Jennifer tried to cover the real story up by telling Brittany that she had put Kaylee in a bath and when she left the room for a couple of minutes while the water was running, Kaylee got burned. “Even if that story was true, you know you never leave a child in an unattended bathtub,” Brittany said.
Immediately, Kaylee was taken to the hospital and doctors started giving her treatment for the severe injuries she suffered under her step grandmother’s care. The sheriff and the doctors could see that there was no way the identical “sock burns” on Kaylee’s feet could have been an accident. They could see that it was deliberately inflicted and the family was left worried if Kaylee would ever walk again.
“Jennifer told deputies from Rhea County (Sheriff’s Office) that she’d scalded Kaylee deliberately after our little girl had upset her,” Brittany said.
According to NewsChannel 9, Jennifer told Brittany that she punished the child by putting her feet in boiling hot water because she was having “a bad day.”
No matter how bad the toddler’s actions were, nothing warrants a punishment of this sort and the mother said, “It’s not right. There is nothing in this world that a 2-year-old can do, no matter how bad they lashed out at you.”
The injuries were so severe and there was a big chance that Kaylee would lose her feet. “When I saw them it was just, it was the worst scald burns I’d ever seen…” said Rocky Potter, a detective with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. “This ranks right up there with one of the worst ones I have seen.”
By September 8, 2019, Brittany had watched her little girl go through five surgeries since the horrible incident took place. “We’re taking it one day at a time,” she said.
In an update that Brittany posted on Facebook , Brittany wrote, “…My baby is doing so so good yall. Her walking isn’t what it use to be but we are getting there. One day at a time and that’s all that matters.”
Following the incident of putting her step granddaughter’s feet in scalding water, Jennifer was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse under Haley’s Law, which could give her 15 to 80 years in prison. An update on October 23 from a NewsChannel 9 report said that Jennifer was indicted on two additional aggravate child abuse charges, consequently facing four such charges and Her bond was set at $150,000.