Caretaker in jail after child dies

Erica Mae Butts

SUMMERVILLE -- A 3-year-old girl is dead, her caretaker is in jail and her mother is in Michigan trying to raise money to return to South Carolina.

Authorities say they responded to 207 Congaree River Drive in the Lakes of Summerville subdivision about 7 p.m. Tuesday and found the toddler unresponsive. She was taken to Summerville Medical Center, where she later died, town police Capt. Jon Rogers said.

Rogers said they arrested the child's 23-year-old caretaker who lived at the house. Investigators charged Erica Mae Butts with homicide by child abuse following an autopsy Wednesday that showed the child died from full body trauma, Rogers said.

The girl lived out of state and was not related to Butts, authorities said.

The girl's mother, Ieshia Richardson, told The Post and Courier on Wednesday that she is in Michigan and is trying to return to South Carolina.

"I left her with my best friend," Richardson said of her daughter. "I'm trying to find a way to get down there."

Richardson said she wasn't in a position to answer more questions about why or how long she left her daughter in Summerville. The family was attempting to open an account with their bank Wednesday night in order to raise money for travel expenses.

The Charleston County Coroner's Office, which is involved in the case because the residence is in Summerville in Charleston County, declined Wednesday to release the girl's name or the cause of death.

Butts was being held at the Charleston County jail awaiting a bond hearing. She has no criminal history in the state, according to a State Law Enforcement Division criminal background check.

Family sets up memorial fund

The mother of a 3-year-old girl who died this week said she hopes to be at a bond hearing today for the 23-year-old caretaker charged in her daughter's death.

Ieshia Richardson said she is on her way to Charleston to attend the bond hearing and be with her daughter, Serenity.

Serenity died Tuesday night. Summerville Police charged Erica Mae Butts with homicide by child abuse.

Butts is expected to appear at a bond hearing today. A time has not been set.

Andy Paras