Delaware daycare worker smothered 4-month-old girl to death for being 'fussy', parents sue child care facility

Isabella Talton died on September 5, 2019, after she was allegedly suffocated by 19-year-old Dejoynay Mariah Ferguson


                            Delaware daycare worker smothered 4-month-old girl to death for being 'fussy', parents sue child care facility
(Delaware State Police)

NEW CASTLE COUNTY, DELAWARE: The parents of a baby girl who was allegedly killed by a daycare worker are suing the child care facility where she worked. Four-month-old Isabella Talton was allegedly smothered by Dejoynay Mariah Ferguson for being “fussy”.

The little girl died on September 5, 2019, after she was allegedly suffocated by the 19-year-old carer, who worked at The Little People Child Development Center on Wrangle Hill Road. Now, the parents of little Isabella are suing the facility, accusing it of negligence as it allowed Ferguson to take care of infants while unsupervised, and arguing the daycare failed to protect their daughter.

Attorney Timothy Lengkeek filed the suit in New Castle County Superior Court on Monday, May 4, representing the parents of the toddler, Cadell Talton and Amanda Livingston. Lengkeek told Delaware Online that the suit, which names The Little People and Ferguson as defendants, is an attempt to ensure "this does not happen to another baby."

The civil suit against the daycare itself is the only way to hold them responsible for what happened to the baby. The state's going to prosecute (The Little People's) employee, but the only way we can get accountability is to file a civil case against the actual entity itself, the corporation,” the attorney added.

As per reports, the suit also seeks unspecified damages based on several charges against the child care facility, including negligence and breach of contract. It accuses The Little People of not having "appropriate staff with adequate credentials, qualifications, competence, and experience" and did not "properly supervise, manage, oversee and ensure safety for the children." 

It also blames the facility of negligence because it "failed to properly investigate Defendant Ferguson's qualifications, credentials, and suitability as an employee." However, a background check done on her did not show anything suspicious. Her experience as a daycare worker, and what qualifications she had before working at The Little People, have not been made public.

On Tuesday, May 5, Lengkeek said the suit is intended to answer those questions. “The question is going to be, number one, what do we learn in discovery, but number two is it, is it reasonable to leave a 19-year-old alone, unsupervised with a room of infants?" he said.

"What kind of training and experience did she have that qualified her to have that position? How was she supervised? What do those surveillance tapes show?" he added.

The filing on May 4 comes about eight months after Ferguson was arrested in connection to Isabella's death. At the time, the daycare worker told police that she smothered the girl because she had become "fussy" and would not stop crying. She confessed to her crime after a video surveillance camera captured her being rough with the baby.

In the footage, Ferguson was seen picking up Isabella by the front of her shirt and putting her on a changing table. She then put her hands on the baby's face for more than three minutes, after which Isabella became "unresponsive and motionless."

Soon after the September incident, state authorities shut down The Little People but allowed it to reopen less than three weeks later. The state said "the imminent threat to the health and safety of children" was no longer present due to Ferguson's arrest and that the baby's death "was not a systemic issue". It also added that The Little People was "compliant with (state) regulations."

Ferguson, who was charged with first-degree murder in September, has not yet been indicted by the prosecutors. Police records said at the time of Isabella’s death, the carer was assigned to the "infant room," as per The Little People's website in September, which has now been taken down, and had at most four babies at any one time. 

The website also claimed that none of its workers attending infants had less than three years of experience. However, it never clarified what those experiences included.

Meanwhile, state records showed 26 complaints were filed against The Little People between 2008 and September 2019. Out of which, two were substantiated by the state officials. Also, the facility had passed state inspection in May 2019 with a five-star rating.

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