2 charged in child's death
She dreamed of being the next Taylor Swift, but wouldn't live long enough to see fourth grade -- and police hold her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend responsible.
The Goose Creek couple brought 8-year-old Jillyn McAmis to Trident Medical Center on Sept. 11, unresponsive and turning blue, according to a police report obtained this week by The Post and Courier.
Investigators learned, in the months that followed, that Harmony McAmis, 32, and Joshua Mashburn, 35, passed up chance after chance to help her, the report said.
A 2005 Dorchester County case also reveals past violence and a concern for McAmis' ability to care for her children. In this case, McAmis knew about her daughter's severe asthma, according to police.
The report on Jillyn's death said the girl told her mother and Mashburn
that she had trouble breathing. McAmis and Mashburn failed to give Jillyn a breathing treatment or to use a nebulizer and mask, according to the report.
They also failed to give Jillyn a rescue inhaler, the report said, and made no reasonable effort at rescue breathing after the child stopped responding to them.
Did not call 911
Instead of calling 911, McAmis and Mashburn drove the nearly 7 miles from their home on Mary Scott Drive to Trident Medical Center with Jillyn in the backseat, according to the report. They passed two medical offices on the way.
Jillyn died two days later, on Sept. 13, at Medical University Hospital, according to Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. He said the girl arrived at the downtown hospital on life support and died from asthma complications.
Police last month arrested McAmis and Mashburn on charges of unlawful neglect by a legal custodian. They remain in custody at the Berkeley County jail in Moncks Corner.
The months between Jillyn's death and McAmis' and Mashburn's arrests reflect a lengthy investigation that included reviewing medical documents, school documents and family history, Goose Creek police Capt. John Grainger said.
He said police consulted with prosecutors and a State Law Enforcement Division child fatality investigator.
Vanessa Mashburn, Joshua Mashburn's sister-in-law, said the arrests shocked friends and family.
"If they had believed something was wrong, they would have done something," Vanessa Mashburn said Wednesday. "They wouldn't have let her die of an asthma attack. I do know that in my heart."
Vanessa Mashburn said Harmony McAmis always helped the family's children make crafts around the holidays, and that she previously fought for custody of her daughter.
State records show that McAmis was convicted on fraudulent-check charges in 2005 and criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature that same year. In that domestic violence case, McAmis admitted to firing a rifle "to get the attention" of a 19-year-old man, according to a Dorchester County sheriff's report.
The man told investigators that he and McAmis argued after learning that a Department of Social Services worker planned to visit them, "based on a complaint that the home was unfit for children." DSS workers turned over McAmis' children to her mother that day, the report said.
A criminal history check of Mashburn includes several arrests for driving on a suspended license and a 1999 conviction for damaging private property. His sister-in-law said Mashburn cared for Jillyn as his own daughter.
"They wouldn't have just let her die," Vanessa Mashburn said.
Jillyn's school, Boulder Bluff Elementary, knew nothing about the girl's asthma problem, the police report said, and school officials never received the girl's medical questionnaire.
The school had no rescue inhaler for her, and Jillyn missed an excessive number of school days, according to the police report.
Vanessa Mashburn remembered Jillyn in better times -- with her older brother, 11-year-old Jayson, who was taken into DSS custody; putting scarves on her head and drawing musical notes on her hands; dressing up and singing and dancing like Swift, her favorite singer.
"She had a little notebook where she had written down some of her thoughts," Mashburn said. "She said she wanted to be famous and pretty."
Jillyn loved blowing bubbles, Mashburn said, so everyone at her funeral said goodbye with a bottle of bubble liquid and a plastic wand.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or on Twitter at @allysonjbird.