Raylee JoLynn Browning likely died from an infection that led to sepsis

By Harriet Sokmensuer
December 12, 2019 02:48 PM
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Credit: Oak Hill Police (3)

A West Virginia dad, his girlfriend and her sister are charged in connection with the 2018 death of the man’s 8-year-old daughter, who authorities allege was prohibited from drinking water, starved and beaten.

On Tuesday, Marty Browning Jr., 34, and his girlfriend Julie Browning, 36, were charged with death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian and child neglect causing death, according to Fayette County Jail records obtained by PEOPLE.

The pair turned themselves in to Oak Hill police one day after Julie’s sister, Sherie Titchenell, 35, was arrested on the same charges, WSAZ reports.

The trio’s arrests come nearly a year after Titchenell carried an unconscious Raylee JoLynn Browning into an Oak Hill hospital on Dec. 26, 2018, saying that she was not breathing, according to a criminal complaint obtained by WVVA, WHSV.

According to the complaint, police responded to a call made my medical staff reporting that the girl was suffering from a cardiac arrest and had bruising and lacerations on her body. Titchenell allegedly initially claimed Raylee had gotten sick the day before due to multiple prescriptions she was taking, but then allegedly said the girl had fallen while getting out of the shower and was shaking nonstop, the complaint states.

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During their investigation, all three of the accused allegedly told contradicting stories about what happened to Raylee, the complaint states.

Julie Browning’s three children also lived in the home with Raylee. One of the girls alleged to investigators that Raylee was banned from drinking water and was forced to sleep on the floor, the complaint states.

“Her [punishment] was that she wasn’t allowed to drink anything,” the child said, according to the complaint. “I caught her drinking from the toilet a few times, and I feel that she got that infection from that water. I told her that the water was dirty, but I guess she was just so thirsty.”

The girl also alleged Raylee was beaten by the adults with metal objects. In the complaint, investigators wrote that during a search of the family’s home, a hammer was found in Raylee’s bedroom.

The girl alleged Titchenell was the main caretaker in the home and had withheld food from Raylee in the past, ordering her not to eat any food at school.

A medical examiner found Raylee’s cause of death was most likely from an infection that led to sepsis. The examiner also said Raylee may have been the victim of medical abuse, noting she was taking seven prescriptions at the time of her death for severe autism and mood disorders.

The suspects’ bonds have been set at $100,000. Attorney information for them was not available Thursday.

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 http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.