Toddler Found Burned to Death, Mother and Her Boyfriend Charged

Police responded to a 911 call on Tuesday in Norfolk, Virginia. Details about the call have not been released, except to say the caller reported that there was an unresponsive child in the home.

When police arrived at around 3:40 a.m., they found a two-year-old girl who had been burned. A short while later she was pronounced dead at a hospital, and now two people have been charged in relation to her death.

There are little details about the toddler. Her name has not been released, and there is no word yet on how she was burned. Her mother, 23-year-old Shelby Love, and her mother's boyfriend, 33-year-old John Tucker Hardee, have been charged with felony child abuse.

Love has one other child, though it's unclear if that child were living in the home, or if the child was home when the incident occurred. She moved to the area last year and began dating Hardee, who has lived in the area for most of his life.

Hardee had a criminal history that included child abuse of his own son. In 2013, an ex-girlfriend brought the young boy to police to report child abuse. The child was covered in bruises and had a skull fracture. The girlfriend told police that the father had also attempted to strangle her.

Hardee later admitted to hitting the boy for spilling his drink and eating dog food. He was convicted of abuse and served three years in jail.

Prior to that, Hardee was convicted on possession of cocaine. He's currently on probation. There are also charges pending that involve destruction of property and assault and battery. A trial is scheduled for those charges in May.

Another woman was also issued a protective order against Hardee after he allegedly assaulted her. She claims he tried to strangle her when she tried to break up with him. He was not convicted of any crimes in that case.

When Love and Hardee began dating, the mother stopped sharing photos of her children on social media. Teachers at the little girl's day care say they didn't notice any obvious signs of abuse, though they are now trying to recall if they might have missed some clues.

"I think that is what hurts us the most because we didn’t see any signs and now we sit back and we like was it something that we missed were we over looking things? She was quiet at times was she trying to tell us something?" said the daycare's heartbroken assistant director, Cheytoria Good.

Both Love and Hardee have been charged with felony child abuse and neglect. Both appeared in court at the same time on Wednesday. Hardee looked at Love, but Love, who appeared to be upset, didn’t look at him at all. The judge informed them that they could be facing more charges in the future, and they are both currently being held without bond.

An autopsy is being performed on the child and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is expected to determine a cause of death. Until then, police have listed the death as 'undetermined' and are awaiting results.

One neighbor said that about a week before the child's death, she heard 'loud, distressful crying' coming from the apartment.

“You hear children crying all the time. Sometimes you don’t know. In hindsight, I feel a little troubled that I didn’t call someone to do a wellness check or knock on the door myself,” she said.

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: WSET, EKlist

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