COSHOCTON, Ohio (WCMH) — A central Ohio mother is desperate to find out what led to her toddler’s death.
Graclynn Young was 15-months-old when she died in the hospital in August, after spending the afternoon at a babysitter’s house in Coshocton. Investigators with the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office say they are running into roadblocks, while information that has surfaced about Graclynn’s death raises more questions than answers.
Cheyene Untied described her daughter as a joy.
“She was so happy, and she was goofy,” Untied said. “But very sassy. She knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it.”
Graclynn was teething and had recently taken her first steps when Untied dropped her off at the babysitter’s house on Aug. 10 around 2 p.m. The sitter was a friend of Untied’s who had been watching Graclynn for about a year while Untied was at work.
“I paid (the babysitter) privately because she wasn’t working. So it just worked out to help a friend, she was helping me,” Untied said.
At the babysitter’s request, NBC4 is not reporting her name because she has not been charged with a crime and fears for her safety after Graclynn’s death.
“I went to work like normal, and at 7:34, I got a message saying that Graclynn was sick and that somebody needed to come get her,” Untied said.
According to Untied, Graclynn had been sick with a sinus infection two weeks earlier with a 101-degree fever but was feeling better after being treated by a doctor. Still, Untied asked the babysitter to take Graclynn’s temperature.
”I called her when she said it was 101 again, and I said ‘What’s going on?’ And that’s when she told me she couldn’t talk because she needed to call 911. That Graclynn wasn’t breathing,” Untied said.
NBC4 Investigates obtained a copy of the 911 call placed by the babysitter at 7:47 p.m. She tells the dispatcher that the baby wasn’t breathing and her lips were blue. While an ambulance was on the way, the dispatcher instructs the babysitter and her boyfriend to perform CPR. The couple can be heard following the dispatcher’s instructions.
Cheyene met everyone at the hospital, where she saw healthcare workers surrounding Graclynn, still working to revive her.
“(The doctor) just said, ‘Mom, we’ve been doing it for over an hour. What do you want us to do?’ and I said, ‘Is there any way that we can do anything?’ And they said no, and I told him stop. Let her go. And that’s when they called her time of death.’”
Graclynn was declared dead at 8:35 p.m.
“All we knew is that she had puked and then stopped breathing,” Untied said. “We just thought it was some freak accident that had happened.”
For Untied, suspicion didn’t arrive until days after Graclynn’s death. The autopsy report reveals that Graclynn had suffered a skull fracture caused by blunt force trauma. The medical examiner estimated the injury to have taken place roughly three or four hours before Graclynn’s death.
“Since then, nobody could tell us how the fracture happened,” Untied said.
“We are investigating this as a suspicious death,” said Capt. Garrison Bryant, the chief deputy at the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office. “The trouble with cases like this is a lot of people had access to Graclynn, which makes it very difficult to pinpoint.”
The people with access to Graclynn on her final day alive included members of her family, the babysitter, her boyfriend, and their children and Michelle McVay.
McVay is the mother of the babysitter’s boyfriend, and runs a licensed daycare center out of her home, in a separate house at the same address. McVay said Graclynn was not part of her daycare and was cared for separately by the babysitter, who brought Graclynn to the daycare to ask for help and call 911.
“The babysitter came over here and said, ‘Hey can you come over here and look at (Graclynn)? She looks funny,’” McVay said she instructed the babysitter to call 911 when she noticed Graclynn’s lips were blue and that she was not breathing.
“I’ve never, in all my life that I’ve been doing this, experienced something like that,” said McVay, referring to her two decades as a daycare provider.
Visibly upset, the babysitter told NBC4 Investigates that Graclynn was behaving normally when she arrived at her house that afternoon, but later became tired and had a decreased appetite before she initially vomited. The babysitter said she did not know when, where, or how Graclynn would have bumped her head.
“‘I don’t know,’ is something that a child says when they spill their cup. Not an adult, when a child dies,” Untied said. “That’s not an acceptable answer.”
McVay said she believes the babysitter, who provided similar information to detectives during two separate interviews.
“I’ve known (the babysitter) for years I know when she’s lying. I know when she’s not,” McVay said. “And it was just all – it all happened so fast.”
Cheyene has not spoken to the babysitter or the McVays since she saw the autopsy results. She said she was instructed by law enforcement to avoid contacting them.
McVay and the babysitter both said they would like to speak to Cheyene, and that if asked, they will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.
“I want to know what happened just as much as (Graclynn’s) grandma does. That’s just crazy to me what happened,” McVay said.
“I cant grieve until I know what happened to (Graclynn). Whether it was an accident – and I can accept it if it was an accident. But I just want to know,” Untied said.
“If somebody does know something, we cant urge them enough to come forward, come talk to us. Any information would be beneficial,” Bryant said.
The Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 740-622-2411.