Mar 19, 2011
By Norma Yuriar
Fresno County, Calif. (KMPH News) – Six months after valley doctors pronounce a Fresno baby dead; Fresno Police arrest the little girl's foster mother on charges of murder and willful injury to a child. Jovannee Reynolds is in the Fresno County Jail. Bail is set at $25,000.
Mikayla Tabin was only 26–days–old when she died on September 20, 2010.
Catherine Huerta, Director of the Fresno County Department of Social Services says the arrest does not come as a shock, her department has been working with police.
"We have known for a series of months...ever since the child was taken to the hospital, that things were very suspicious then this poor child passed," Huerta said. "So, we've known, we've been cooperating with police.
Investigators say it was little Mikayla's own foster parents that drove her to Children's Hospital Central California on September 14, 2010. The medical staff believed her injuries were "suspicious" and contacted the Fresno Police Department's Child Abuse Unit. Mikayla died six days later.
"The Coroner's Office conducted an extensive investigation into this death as well. Homicide Detectives determined that the victim died from Shaken Baby Syndrome," Lt. Mark Salazar said in a news release.
"We have kept very comprehensive records since 2003 and this is the first time since 2003 that we have had a child fatality... allegedly by a foster parent," Huerta said.
Child Protective Services removed Mikayla from her biological mother's care in August of 2010 and placed her with Reynolds.
Huerta says Fresno County pays foster parents $345 a month to care for a newborn.
"Had we had any indication, she would harm this child we would have taken action," Huerta said.
Huerta says Reynolds and her husband both passed an extensive background check, a home inspection and took part in a mandatory 9–week class before being accepted into the foster care program.
"Unfortunately, and maybe this is the case, you can pass all of that, have no record, have a home that meets all the physical standards and there are parts that we have no control over," Huerta said.
The foster father was not arrested. Fresno police says he is not considered a suspect in the investigation.