Starved toddler dies from head injury 4 months after social workers returned her to parents

Starved toddler who died from "blunt force trauma to the head" just four months after social workers returned her into the care of her parents.


The parents of the 19-month-old Tennessee girl have been charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse after a medical examiner determined the child had been killed, authorities said.


Sapora D. Walton, 20, and Jeremiah T. Crater, 22, were arrested Wednesday and were being held in the Washington County Detention Center, police said in a statement.

Samiah Crater died in February, four months after being returned to the custody of her parents, Johnson City Police investigator Joe Jaynes wrote in arrest affidavits, according to the Johnson City Press.

Samiah was "in good health" when she was placed back in the care of Walton and Crater on October 27, 2019, according to police.

The girl weighed only 12 pounds when she died, court documents said.

Autopsy findings received this month by police and prosecutors determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck and "severe" malnourishment, police said in a statement.

"The death was deemed as a homicide."

The Department of Children's Services had custody of the girl between August 2018 and October 2019, police affidavits said. When she returned to her parents, “records show (she) was in good health,” Jaynes wrote in the affidavit.

Following their arrests, Walton and Crater were transported to the Washington County Detention Center, where they are both being held on a $100,000.00 bond.

Authorities responded to the couple’s residence on February 21 after a report that the girl was unresponsive, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Johnson City Police Capt. Kevin Peters said in a statement.

Police said the parents couldn't explain the child’s injuries and told officers they weren't aware of any health problems.

"Investigators recognized several injuries around and on the head of the victim as well as the child being severely underweight," a police statement read.

"Both Walton and Crater were interviewed and gave statements that there were no known issues with the child and couldn’t explain the injuries."


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