Detroit baby falls through floor into basement, drowns in 'standing water and sewage,' prosecutors say
At first glance, the white house on Ferguson Street in Detroit looks like any other home commonly found in American suburbs. It's front lawn is mowed and decorated with thick green shrubbery. It's peaked roof is covered in gray shingles.
The interior, however, is another story.
Video footage shows dark rooms cluttered with garbage. While some windows allow sunlight in, others are boarded up with large wooden planks. Once-white walls are yellowed, bare patches exposed where paint used to be. In the corner of one bedroom, a gaping hole in the floor goes straight to the house's basement.
It was through this hole that authorities say 11-month-old Ca'Mya Davis fell and died on July 6, a couple weeks before her first birthday.
But the infant didn't die from blunt force trauma or injuries usually related to falls. She drowned "in standing water and sewage in the basement," the Detroit Free Press reported, citing a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. Before her death, Ca'Mya was "roaming the house unattended," prosecutors alleged.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner ruled the death an accidental drowning, according to the Detroit News.
On Tuesday, 26-year-old Dasiah Jordan, Ca'Mya's mother, was arraigned on one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree child abuse, according to court records. A second woman, 28-year-old Tonya Peterson, also faces the same charges, court records state. Peterson is the owner of the home where Ca'Mya died, the Detroit Free Press reported. No attorneys were listed for the women.
Jordan told WJBK she had been living in the house since April.
"I lived here for a couple months because I didn't have nowhere else to go," she said. "I didn't want to go back to my dad's or go back to my auntie's house. I thought I could do it on my own."
On July 6, Jordan told police that she went to get her hair done and left Ca'Mya and her other 10-year-old daughter in the house with babysitters, WJBK reported. In an interview with the news station, Jordan said the babysitters were her friends.
While Ca'Mya couldn't really walk, Jordan said the infant could "stand up on stuff" and "walk along walls."
"I just bought her some shoes, so she can get her balance," Jordan said.
In the statement, prosecutors allege that Jordan and Petersen were "aware of the hazardous and unsafe condition in the bedroom."
Usually, the hole is covered, Jordan told WJBK, adding that she wasn't sure why Ca'Mya was even in the room at the time.
According to a GoFundMe page for Ca'Mya's funeral expenses, Jordan did not know something had happened to her daughter until late that night. She received text messages telling her she needed to come home and when she called the babysitter, she was told to go to the hospital.
Thinking it was "a broken arm type of emergency at the most," Jordan arrived to learn the tragic news.
"First he asked me was the basement flooded, and that's when it hit me," Jordan told WJBK. "I started crying and that's when he told me my baby drowned in a basement."
This article was written by Allyson Chiu, a reporter for The Washington Post.