SUMMERVILLE — A three-year-old girl who died this week had "obvious signs of abuse," including bruises all over her body, contusions on her head and a burn mark behind her knee, according to a police report released today.
Police charged the girl's caretaker, Erica Mae Butts, 23, with homicide by child abuse in the death of the girl. She is in the Charleston County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing today.
Police have declined to identify the victim. Ieshia Richardson, the child's mother, identified her daughter as Serenity Richardson. The family has set up a bank account so they can bring her body back to Detroit, MI, where they live, family members said.
It is not clear why or how long the child has been staying with Butts at 207 Congaree River Dr. in the Lakes of Summerville subdivision. Richardson said only that she left her child with her best friend. She said this morning that she plans to be at the bond hearing today.
EMS arrived at the house about 7 p.m. Tuesday night. An unidentified woman inside the house told a paramedic that the girl was sitting in a chair, fell backward and struck her head, the police report says.
According to the arrest warrant, the child was beaten to death and Butts later told police she had struck the child a number of times with a belt because the child had urinated on the floor.
At an emotion-filled bond hearing, Magistrate Linda Lombard explained that she could not set a bond on the charge. Only a circuit court judge can set bond on a homicide charge.
The woman declined to give paramedics information about the girl, the report says.
Paramedics took the child to Summerville Medical Center where she was pronounced dead about 8:05 p.m.