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Crime

‘A Horrible Death’: West Virginia Great-Grandmother Charged in Hot-Car Death of Toddler

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A 65-year-old West Virginia woman has been charged in the April death of her great-grandson after she allegedly left the toddler in a hot car for seven hours, say police.

Corporal A.B. Ward of the West Virginia State Police tells PEOPLE that Carolyn Davis, 65, of Point Pleasant, stopped at a Wendy’s drive-thru with the child possibly dead in the back seat.

“The boy had been dead for a while when we found him” on April 5, Ward says.

Following a nearly month-long investigation, Davis was arrested on May 5 and charged with child neglect resulting in death, says Ward. 

She was arraigned Thursday but has not yet entered a plea, and it was not immediately clear if she has retained an attorney. Her bond was set at $500,000 with a stipulation of home confinement, says Ward.

The ordeal began when Davis drove the child’s mother, who is her granddaughter, to work that morning, with the toddler and his 4-year-old sister in side-by-side car seats in the back seat, says Ward.

When Davis got home, she allegedly got out of the vehicle with the 4-year-old, leaving the toddler inside the car unattended with the windows up from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., says Ward.

Though the temperature outside was 81 degrees, temperatures inside the vehicle climbed to 120 to 140 degrees because it was parked in an open field with no shade, he says.

Later that afternoon, Davis put the 4-year-old back in the car and drove to a Wendy’s fast food drive-thru before going to pick up her granddaughter at work, Ward says.

When the granddaughter got in the car, she realized “the boy [was] blue” and “stiff” in his car seat, and that she couldn’t get him out.

“She finds her son deceased in the back seat,” Ward says.

Davis took care of the children five days a week while their mother worked, says Ward.

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“That’s got to be a horrible death,” he says. “I’m sure he woke up screaming and crying, which got him that much hotter.”

Police say they believe the death was accidental, says Ward. “We’re assuming he may have been asleep that morning when she took him home and she left him in the car to sleep and forgot he was in there,” he says.

But, he says, authorities believe Davis knew the child was dead when she got back into the car. “We think that she knew the child had passed away and just drove on into town waiting for someone else to discover it” so that she wouldn’t have to be the one reporting it.

Ward adds, “I don’t know how you would not know a little baby’s there when you put another one right beside him and he is purple and stiff.”