SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The mother of a 1-month-old baby spent Wednesday night in jail after being charged with severely abusing someone else's infant who was in her care while she was pregnant. Samantha Dillbeck, crying emotionally, left the Greene County jail at midday Thursday after posting a $25,000 bond.
Samantha Dillbeck (left) walks out of the Greene County jail on May 18, 2017, after posting bond on a child abuse charge. (Tom Schultheis)
Greene County prosecutors charged Dillbeck, 28, on Wednesday after a seven-week investigation by Republic police. Investigators and medical care providers believe Dillbeck shook 8-month-old Grayson Barnhart on March 21 at her child care business in her home. Grayson is recovering from brain trauma after spending time in a hospital in Springfield.
A mother herself, the 28-year-old woman is charged with child abuse.
"This was somebody they knew and trusted implicitly, they cared for, had a good relationship,” said Joshua Roberts, an attorney for the Barnhart family.
Dillbeck was pregnant with her second child when investigators say she ran an unlicensed in-home child care center. Investigators say she cared for more than four unrelated children, the maximum number that state law permits without a license. They also said Dillbeck had been warned about violating that state law almost exactly a year ago.
Grayson's parents took him to a doctor in early March due to vomiting and seizures. They didn’t know why their son was sick.
On the afternoon of March 21, Dillbeck called Grayson's mother, a Republic School District teacher, and said Grayson was unresponsive. The probable cause statement used as the basis of the charges against Dillbeck says Grayson's mother told her to call 9-1-1. Paramedics took Grayson to a hospital in Springfield.
The probable cause statement cites multiple medical opinions that the abusive head trauma happened when Grayson was in Dillbeck's home.
"The injuries sustained had to have happened really close in time to when the 9-1-1 call was made, which was 3 o’clock that afternoon,” said Roberts.
Records show Grayson had hemorrhages on his brain and behind his eyes, and dense fluid collection on his brain.
"With this child there are multiple internal injuries around the brain and various areas, and there are no external injuries whatsoever, so that's indicative of being shaken,” said Roberts.
Police said in the probable cause statement that Dillbeck's husband said she was stressed due to the pregnancy.
The bond conditions for Dillbeck initially stipulated she should have no unsupervised contact with children, including her own. Her attorneys objected to that provision because Dillbeck is a nursing mother, and a judge removed that provision after a hearing.
"We got that taken care of this morning so she is allowed to be a mother, after all of her cooperation with law enforcement,” said Dee Wampler, Dillbeck’s defense attorney.
Wampler said Dillbeck feels like she was misled by detectives who asked her to cooperate with their investigation. He says detectives have ignored or overlooked information that would exonerate her, but he wouldn’t go into details in an interview on Thursday.
Roberts, the attorney for the Barnharts, says Grayson still has fluid on his brain but is recovering. He says it could be years before doctors can determine if there are permanent injuries. He’s scheduled next month to see a doctor in Kansas City who specializes in child abuse cases.