Mom to police: Girl was alone

Ta'mya Grant

Woman says she found daughter lying next to bed

ST. STEPHEN — Seven-year-old Ta'Mya Grant was asleep in her bed when her mother left her alone for "a couple of hours" to get a pack of cigarettes Friday night, the town's police chief said Sunday.

Shaveta McGill told investigators she returned to the rental house at 109 Welch St. and found her daughter on the floor next to her bed with an injury to the back of her head, Chief John Waters said.

Paramedics arrived at the house at about 1 a.m. Saturday. Ta'Mya died in the ambulance by the time she reached the hospital, Waters said.

The chief said it could be today or Tuesday before they receive autopsy results on what caused Ta'Mya's death, which is being investigated as a homicide. No one has been charged.

Friends and family on Sunday said they have no idea who would kill a bright, energetic child.

"She was a very, very loving young girl," said Shyala Ford, Ta'Mya's cousin. "She was just like an angel."

Childhood friend Crystal Eichel said McGill, 22, was a single mother who sometimes worked two jobs to support her daughter. Mother and daughter stayed with Eichel for four or five months last year after McGill broke up with a boyfriend.

"She's a good mother," Eichel said. "She made her sit down and do her homework every day when she got home. Her daughter looked up to her."

Waters said McGill got off work about

5 p.m. Friday.

She and Ta'Mya visited with friends until 9 p.m., then returned home. McGill told investigators she doesn't usually leave her child alone for a long time, Waters said. The police chief said he couldn't shed light on why it would take McGill "a couple of hours" to buy cigarettes.

Eichel said she hasn't talked to McGill in about three months. McGill moved out of Eichel's house to live with her mom in Pineville for a while, then moved into a place on Dorchester Road.

Eichel said she couldn't imagine who would do something like this.

"I don't know anybody who would even want to hurt a little kid," she said.

Ford, Ta'Mya's cousin, said the family has no idea what happened.

"This is something no one expected," Ford said. "This child was loved. For this to happen, it's just a shock to everyone."

Ford asked that anyone with information please come forward.

"We're not going to be at peace until we find out what happened," Ford said.

Waters said he has requested the help of the State Law Enforcement Division's child homicide unit.

A SLED spokesman declined to release any details about the investigation. SLED agents were back at the house Sunday inspecting the exterior, including a broken window pane.

The white house with black trim sits in the center of the town, just a short walk from an abandoned railroad depot and a Subway restaurant that mother and daughter visited a few times a week.

The crime has shaken the town of 1,700 residents. Several stopped in front of the home Sunday just to see the place where the killing occurred.