Babysitter arrested in death of Tacoma baby

Staff writerApril 29, 2014 

Jayceon Thomas

A woman frequently entrusted to look after neighborhood kids was arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of an 8-month-old Tacoma boy, police said.

The 34-year-old babysitter was booked into Pierce County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder. She is expected to be charged Wednesday in the death of Jayceon Thomas, a wide-eyed baby known for his constant smile.

“The family is heartbroken over what has happened and now we’re praying for justice for Jayceon,” said the boy’s mother, Vanessa Henderson.

Jayceon was staying with the babysitter for a few days while his father, Iven Thomas, searched for a new place to stay.

Thomas said he’s known the babysitter since they were 13. He said he felt comfortable leaving his son with her because she has a boy the same age as Jayceon.

The babysitter called Thomas April 11 and told him to pick up Jayceon because the boy was sick. He immediately left for the sitter’s house and began to panic when she called again to say his son wouldn’t wake up. Thomas said he charged upstairs when he arrived and saw Jayceon lying in bed with liquid coming out of his nose. The baby was motionless.

“I was crying as soon as I saw my baby like that,” he said through tears.

Thomas rushed Jayceon to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, where doctors called police after noticing bruises and other signs of abuse. Jayceon died the next day.

Police went to speak with the babysitter on April 11 and removed five children from her home in the 1000 block of South Trafton Street, spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

The sitter’s children, which include a 2-year-old girl and boys aged 11 months, 4, 8 and 9, were placed with family members.

Detectives declined Tuesday to say what they believe happened to Jayceon. The Medical Examiner's Office has not yet determined a cause of death.

Thomas said he spoke with her afterward but her story about what happened kept changing.

“I don’t get it. She loves kids. There’s so much I don’t understand,” he said. “She watches so many people’s kids. That’s what she loves doing. You would never see this coming.”

The babysitter has prior convictions for assault, residential burglary, second-degree robbery and custodial assault, according to court records.