After 11 months of investigation, police have arrested a 23-year-old woman and her former boyfriend in the 2012 death of the woman’s 17-month-old daughter at the boyfriend’s home in Woodstock.
The child’s mother, Jamie Beck of Bartow County, and Woodstock resident Michael Naples, Beck’s 31-year-old former boyfriend, were arrested Friday morning and each charged with felony murder and first degree cruelty to children, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
The two are charged in the homicide of Kaylee Rayne Johnson, who died of head trauma in October 2012, said Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Baker said Friday a Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab report recently revealed the child’s cause of death as “blunt force trauma to the head” and ruled the death a homicide.
The investigation into Johnson’s death began at about 2 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2012, when deputies responded to a report of an injured child at Naples’ home at 304 Red Bird Way in Woodstock, reports at the time showed.
The deputies found the toddler, who died of her injuries two days later, unresponsive when they got to the home, Baker said.
“At the time, the mother advised deputies she got up to get a glass of water and noticed the door to the basement was open,” Baker said. “She then stated she saw her daughter lying on the ground at the bottom of the stairs.”
But Lt. Col. Ron Hunton, field operations commander for the Sheriff’s Office, said the investigation has indicated Johnson did not die from falling down the stairs, as the suspects reported.
“The autopsy results confirmed that this child’s injuries are not consistent with a fall as described by the mother and the boyfriend,” Hunton said Friday, though he declined comment on how the toddler was injured.
Hunton said Beck and Naples were arrested after the 11-month investigation Friday morning because after review of the autopsy report received from the GBI, “information was certainly sufficient and probable cause existed to arrest these two individuals.”
Beck was arrested at the Sheriff’s Office annex in Woodstock and Naples in Cobb County, Baker said.
Hunton said the charge of felony murder, as opposed to murder, was decided by the District Attorney’s office.
According to Georgia law, felony murder occurs when a person “causes the death of another human being” while at the same time committing another felony.
In this case, that felony was cruelty to children, Hunton said. He declined to elaborate how the suspects allegedly carried out that cruelty.
“As far as exactly how this child suffered these injuries, I’m not going to get into that,” Hunton said.
As part of the investigation into the toddler’s death, Hunton said investigators looked into the suspects’ history, which yielded that Naples has previously been accused of violence.
According to police reports dating back to 2004, Naples has a history of being accused of domestic abuse and violence. In one police report from 2008, a friend of Naples and his former wife explained Naples had “kept his wife trapped in an abusive relationship through violence and threats.”
Both suspects are in custody at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center without bond, Baker said.