11-month-old infant and dog died in hot car; caretaker faces felony charges

An 11-month-old infant and a dog were left in a hot car and died, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, and a caretaker was charged with two felonies.

Sheriff Ron Montgomery said in a news conference that a man brought Myrical Wicker to the emergency room at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News on Tuesday afternoon. Emergency room staff went to the man’s car and found the child wrapped in a garbage bag.

Kristen Graham, 40, had a history of caring for Myrical Wicker for days at a time at her home in the Seaford area of York County. Wicker’s mother,”] would often leave her with Graham, who was a family friend and lived nearby. According to Montgomery, Graham had been caring for the child for about two days. At 1 a.m. Tuesday, she took the child and the dog with her to buy cigarettes for a friend at a 7-Eleven store in Newport News.

“She drove to the home of the friend and stayed there for a period of time,” Montgomery said during Wednesday’s news conference.

Montgomery said license plate cameras recorded Graham returning to her home at about 8 a.m. Once home, Graham left the child and the dog in the car until about 2:30 p.m., Montgomery said.

The heat index was at about 100 degrees, he said.

He added “there isn’t really any good explanation” for why Graham left the child and dog in the car, and Graham had given “conflicting” statements.

“(Graham) was awakened by a phone call from outside to check on the child who was, at that point, deceased,” Montgomery said. “The child was brought into the house. The individual that later took the child to Mary Immaculate Hospital places child in the black plastic bag and transported to Mary Immaculate.”

Graham has been charged with felony child abuse and animal cruelty, and her next court date is scheduled for Nov. 9. Montgomery said no one else has been charged in the case .

So far in 2023, 25 children have died in hot cars, according to Kids and Car Safety. Last year, there were 36.

“I can tell you that the mood of the agency today when we had a briefing on (the case) this morning is somewhat shock and disbelief,” Montgomery said. “Even though we’re professionals we have to do everything that we possibly can to do a thorough professional investigation, it affects people. Like I said, we have children ourselves. I can tell you that we all hug our kids and our grandkids a little tighter after something like this happens.”
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“Any time there’s a loss of a child, it’s just a very tragic event no matter if it’s by natural means or by accident or by some other means,” he said.