On Tuesday, daycare workers at Rocket Tiers Learning Center found an 8-month-old girl unresponsive and notified Baltimore Police Department. A staffer recounted the moments before Bowman was found deceased, saying she had fed the child, then wrapped her in a blanket and put into a crib for a nap.
According to Baltimore police, a video camera at the center contradicted the staffer’s story.
Criminal Investigations Chief Stanley Brandford, said the staffer, 23-year-old Leah Walden, of Windsor Mill, could be seen covering the child with “excessive blankets,” – covering the baby’s head completely.
Walden was also seen “violently snatching the child out of the crib with one arm, swinging at the baby as if she was slapping her and placing pillows over the baby’s face,” Brandford said.
“Watching the video is disturbing,” he said. “Reese Bowman, in my opinion, was tortured.”
Police was made aware of the video footage on Wednesday evening and Walden was taken into custody on Thursday morning around 3 a.m.
Walden has been charged with first- and second-degree assault, first- and second- degree murder, second-degree reckless endangerment and child abuse.
A bail review is scheduled for Walden on Friday morning.
Rocket Tiers, in the Jonestown neighborhood, was issued an emergency suspension and has to be shut down, but the center director could not be reached. The Division of Early Childhood Development is responsible for overseeing all Maryland daycare centers said Rocket Tiers would be required to undergo an inspection, before it would be permitted to reopen.
On Thursday, the Reese’s family was asking for privacy and said they were suffering “tremendous pain.”
“ Our hearts are broken. No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child under any circumstances,” the statement said. “We await further information from the unfolding investigation.”
According to Brandford, the center was cooperating with police.
The licensed daycare center had been in operation for 13 years and is allowed a maximum capacity of 60 children from 6 months and older.
Following a July inspection, the center was cited for six violations, including exceeding the maximum approved child capacity, failing to complete all training requirements and presenting a safety and health hazard. Bill Reinhard, Education Department spokesman said all of the violations had been corrected.
Walden’s bio, listed on Rocket Tiers’ website read: “I have one year of professional childcare experience and six years of part-time babysitting.” “I love seeing the children develop new skills like sitting up, crawling and walking. The best part of being an infant teacher is caring for babies who love me as much as I love them. This has been the most rewarding experience for me!”
Parents were notified of Bowman’s death via email on Wednesday afternoon.