The 10-month-old baby, who deputies say was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend, died Wednesday afternoon.
Family members said doctors pronounced the infant brain-dead Tuesday night. Family members were gathered at Charleston Area Medical Center waiting for the infant’s mother, Amanda Adkins, to sign the papers to take the child off life support.
“Amanda’s main concern was that there was going to be some miraculous event and that [the baby] is going to open her eyes,” said Danielle Adkins, the mother’s cousin. “I just think reality just hasn’t hit her yet.”
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies arrested Benjamin Ryan Taylor, 32, of Cottageville, on Monday on a charge of sexually assaulting the baby.
While the rest of the family slept upstairs in their Ripley apartment Sunday night, Taylor took the baby to the basement, where he assaulted her, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jackson Magistrate Court.
When Amanda Adkins woke up Monday morning between 4:30 and 5 a.m. and found her daughter naked on the basement floor, she immediately called for help.
Deputies later said they found blankets and clothing covered in blood down there, according to the complaint.
As they handcuffed him, Taylor tried “vigorously” to wipe something off his groin area, deputies said.
Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs said the charge against Taylor, currently first-degree sexual assault, will be upgraded to murder.
“I’ve been here 25 years, and we’ve never encountered something of this nature,” Boggs said. “I don’t know if we’ve had anything like this near here.”
The baby was taken to a local hospital, then to Charleston because of her injuries. Emergency room doctors told deputies that the baby’s traumatic injuries likely were suffered several hours beforehand, according to the criminal complaint.
An overwhelming amount of messages of support for Amanda Adkins and her family has been pouring in via text and Facebook, Danielle Adkins said.
She said Taylor had been dating her cousin for a short time — most people in the family hadn’t yet met him.
Amanda Adkins met him when she moved herself and her four children to West Virginia from Maryland over the summer, Danielle Adkins said.
“She went down there to start over,” Danielle Adkins said. “Baltimore isn’t the safest place; it’s just not. I understood why she wanted to bring her kids to West Virginia. She went there to start over.”
Adkins’ three other children living in the home at the time of the alleged assault are safe, Boggs said.