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Bay Area woman reacts to arrest of friend accused of severely burning child

11:34 PM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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Maria Fernandez has known Chekayla Dampier for years. Dampier is accused of burning her baby with scalding water.



PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A Bay Area woman is struggling with the arrest of a teenager she considers her daughter. The teen is accused of severely burning a child.

Maria Fernandez has known Chekayla Dampier for years.

"It's so ugly that I cannot believe," said Fernandez.

She said the child Dampier is accused of abusing is the teen's son, who was born in February. According to detectives with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Dampier brought the child to North Bay Hospital on Monday with injuries to his chest, arms, and face. The burns were so severe the baby's left nipple pulled off when his shirt was removed.

Fernandez said Dampier brought the injured child to her and she went with the young mother to the hospital.

"He was terrible. I was terrified. I was terrified," she said.

According to Fernandez, Dampier told her a relative hurt the baby. Authorities said the teen later confessed to getting frustrated with the child, putting him in a wash tub, and running hot water over him for two to three minutes at her home on Johnson Road in Port Richey.

Detectives said Dampier saw the baby's skin coming off and bubbling. "It's one of the most horrific cases we've seen here at the Pasco Sheriff's Office in a very long time," said public information officer Kevin Doll.

Dampier is being charged with aggravated child abuse. She remains in jail Wednesday night on $150,000 bond.

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