A babysitter at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California has been arrested in connection with the death of a baby shaken so hard the 18-month-old boy died of severe internal brain injuries, although the 24-year-old said Wednesday in an exclusive interview that she didn't do it.
Fairfield police officer Cleo Mayoral said Gina Nicole Bailey, was arrested Tuesday at 6 p.m. on suspicion of assaulting a baby causing death. The investigation revealed the baby, who the family identified as Thor Wayne Thompson, had been shaken violently and dropped on the floor.
Bailey was booked into the Solano County Jail. Her bail was set at $750,000.
"I trusted her," Jake Wayne Thompson, the baby's father and a US Air Force member, told NBC Bay Area. "There aren't words for how terrifying and troubling it is. He was just the happiest little kid."
But Bailey said she is innocent, according to an exclusive jailhouse interview Wednesday morning with KCRA, NBC's affiliate in Sacramento.
When asked if she touched the baby, Bailey shook her head no, shaking and crying violently. "I didn't touch the baby," she repeated through sobs.
Bailey, who told the station she is a military wife with a 1-year-old son herself, denied the fact that the baby fell in her care. And she said she never shook him. Bailey said she used to watch the boy at her home.
She did acknowledge to KCRA, however, that she noticed something might be wrong when she was getting ready to take the boy home around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, and he threw up blood in her car.
That's the day police said the baby boy was rushed from Bailey's home in the the 100 block of Michigan Street on the base to David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force base. He had trouble breathing and was placed on a ventilator, Mayoral said. There were no external signs of trauma, police added.
The next day, the baby was transferred to the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he died. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an estimated 300 babies a year die from being shaken in the United States.
Fairfield detectives began working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Mayoral said, poring over autopsy results and conducting interviews. Police determined that the baby was regularly in Bailey’s care, and later deemed the death a homicide due to “severe internal brain injury,” Mayoral said.
Thompson added that their young daughter witnessed what she said she saw happen that evening and "recreated it with her doll."
He said the death of his son has been especially traumatic since he and his wife, Whitney, have been with Bailey this last week, bringing her and her son Christmas gifts. He said he had no idea how his son died, thinking until Bailey's arrest, that it was a mystery.
"We trusted her," he said.