York County, Va. – A 31-year-old woman was arrested and charged with child neglect and murder on Thursday in York County.
Deputies from the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office were called to a residence in the 80 block of Challenger Circle on Tuesday along with Emergency Medical personnel after receiving reports of an unresponsive toddler.
The 16-month-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Preliminary autopsy results indicate the child died from strangulation.
The investigation revealed that the baby and an 8-year-old girl were left in the care of 31-year-old Kyla Denise Ziegenhagen when she left them unattended for several hours with no supervision.
During that time, it appears that the baby became entangled in the safety seat harness, leading to the strangulation and death.
According to a criminal complaint, Ziegenhagen was employed as an in-home childcare provider for the baby, the 8-year-old girl and another child – a 1-year-old boy. She also cared for her own two children – ages 3 and 6.
According to the complaint, Ziegenhagen originally told police that around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, she put the 16-month-old in a child car safety seat and took her outside and rocked her in the seat while the other kids played in the yard.
She said around 2:25 p.m., the baby fell asleep in the car seat so she took her to upstairs and put her in the master bedroom while she went downstairs and folded clothes. She then told police that around 4:30pm she went upstairs to check on the baby and found her cold to the touch and unresponsive.
On Thursday morning, the mother of the 8-year-old girl told police that Ziegenhagen had actually had a veterinarian appointment on Tuesday afternoon that she attended.
Court documents say police went to the vet, who confirmed Ziegenhagen showed up for her appointment. The staff at the vet’s office said she came to clinic with her two children and another infant in a stroller. They say the 8-year-old girl and the 16-month-old were not there.
Police interviewed Ziegenhagen again on Thursday and she admitted to going to the appointment, leaving the 8-year-old and 16-month-old alone at her house. She told police that she placed the baby in the car seat and left her on the bed in the master bedroom. She says she left her house at 1:45 p.m. and returned around 3:00 p.m. but did not immediately check on the baby. She says she sent the 8-year-old upstairs to check on her around 4:30 p.m. and that’s when she found that the baby had slid down in the car seat and become entangled.
Ziegenhagen has been charged with two felony counts of Child Neglect and one count of felony Murder.
She is being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.