Babysitter arrested for abusing 14-month-old child

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MURRAY -- Murray police arrested a woman Monday for child abuse and neglect. They think she is responsible for injuring a baby in January and two others before that.

Doctors said one of the children, 14-month-old HaLee Miller, would never see again, but she's already on the fast track to recovery.

"She had to relearn how to pull herself up, and then one day she only took a couple steps. She's just had to relearn everything again," said HaLee's mother, Shandee Mceowen.

Her prognosis wasn't good. Pictures of HaLee at Primary Children's Medical Center show her in a neck brace with swollen eyes. Doctors told her parents their baby had brain hemorrhaging and severe optical nerve damage: all signs of shaken baby syndrome.

"The bleeding is on the front and back of her head, and there's blood all around her optic nerves," explained HaLee's father, Steven Miller.

Shandee and Steven immediately knew it was their babysitter, 37-year-old Kami Kay Tollefson. Six weeks ago, they say HaLee started vomiting and couldn't eat or sleep.

"I took her to her pediatrician like every single week, and they're like, ‘It could be the flu. It could be an ear infection,'" Shandee said.

But two weeks ago, after Shandee picked her daughter up from Tollefson's house, she knew it was bad. She called 911, and HaLee was LifeFlighted to Primary Children's Medical Center.

Once doctors performed a CT scan and other tests, they knew it was shaken baby syndrome. So, Murray police got involved and discovered that Tollefson had two previous cases that were never prosecuted -- one in 2008 and one in 2009 -- both involving babies under 2 years old with significant injuries.

Now, HaLee's parents hope her recovery continues.

"I think she's a miracle baby," Steven said. "She's gotta be here for a reason and doing so good."

Tollefson was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Monday evening. She is facing three counts of second-degree felony child abuse.



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