Mom, Boyfriend Charged After Brothers, Ages 1 and 2, Die Days Apart After They Were Allegedly Shaken

Two toddlers are dead after authorities allege their mother's boyfriend shook them to death while she was out shopping, reports say

Two toddlers are dead after authorities allege their mother's boyfriend shook them to death while she was out shopping, reports say.

Thomas Cunningham, 27, has been charged with child abuse causing death and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury; while Ciera Gillespie, 25, has been charged with child neglect creating risk of serious injury or death, child neglect resulting in death and gross neglect of a child creating risk of injury or death, jail records show.

It was unclear if they have entered pleas to the charges or retained attorneys to comment on their behalf.

According to WDTV-TV, citing authorities in Buckhannon, W. Va., Gillespie went to the store the evening of Nov. 28, leaving her three children, including two boys, ages 1 and 2, in the care of Cunningham.

Citing the criminal complaint, WBOY-TV reports Cunningham "used a Percocet to get high while he was left in the care and custody of the two infant children."

Upon Gillespie's return home, as she was pulling into the driveway, she allegedly received a call from Cunningham that something was wrong with the 2-year-old, according to WDTV.

Once inside, Cunningham allegedly handed over the child, whose "body was limp, with blood coming from his mouth and nose," to Gillespie, per the station. The pair then called 911.

Joseph Tyler Warner and Hunter Haze Warner
Joseph Tyler Warner and Hunter Haze Warner. GoFundMe

As Gillespie and the 2-year-old were preparing to leave with the ambulance, Cunningham allegedly ran out of the house with the 1-year-old in his arms and allegedly confessed "there was something wrong with this baby also."

It was unclear if Gillespie's 6-year-old daughter, who was also home at the time, was harmed in the incident.

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According to WBOY-TV, the criminal complaint states the 2-year-old died at the hospital two days later. His cause of death was due to "a traumatic injury consistent with 'shaken baby,'" a doctor told authorities, per the outlet.

The doctor also allegedly told authorities "the retinal injuries" suffered by the toddler "were the worst he had seen in 20 years," the station reports.

The 1-year-old succumbed to his injuries Saturday, per WAFB-TV.

Since then, a GoFundMe campaign launched to help offset funeral costs has identified the boys as Joseph "Tyler" Warner, 2, and Hunter Haze Warner, 1.

Speaking with WDTV, the boys' grandmother Stephanie Warner, called their deaths "horrible" and "unspeakable."

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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