Tivasha E. Logan
Chauncey J. Gardner
This picture shows a healthy Chauntasia Gardner as she was released from the hospital shortly after birth. Her parents have been charged with her starvation death.
Lakeland, Florida - Although born prematurely, Chauntasia Gardner left the hospital fat and sassy. But when EMS crews and deputies came to her home in Lakeland on Sunday, what they found shook them to their core.
Chauntasia was dead. She'd been starved to death.
"I don't think you can imagine what EMS crews and deputies saw Sunday morning," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. He described crime scene photos of the baby as "horrific."
The baby's parents, 25-year-old Tivasha Logan and 27-year-old Chauncey Gardner, had their first appearance in court Tuesday. They are charged with murder and aggravated child abuse. They are being held in jail without bond.
Click here to read the arrest affidavits. (PDF)
According to the Sheriff, the couple has showed no emotion, except surprise that they were arrested. "Both... are in total denial," says Judd.
Back in the family's Lakeland neighborhood, people can't understand how this happened. When found, the 5-month-old weighed about six pounds, less than half the weight of an average baby the same age.
In the family's Lakeland neighborhood, people can't understand how this happened. Several said they knew there was a baby in the house, but never saw it.
Jackie Davis lives across the street and like others, says she wished she had known what was going on. She would have tried to help.
"It makes me so mad. It just tore me up inside when I heard that. Heck, I treat my dog better than how they did that baby. It's a shame," says Davis.
What's puzzling about this case is that five other children in the home appeared healthy. There was plenty of food in the cupboards, except for infant formula. The other children are now in the custody of DCF.
This investigation is ongoing, as detectives try to find out why Chauntasia's life was cut so short. In his long law enforcement career, Judd says he's seen nothing like it.
"This just rips your heart out. This was a thriving baby girl who is now dead."
Kathryn Bursch, 10 Connects News