When Brier Ineichen grows up, she likely won’t remember the days she spent alone, thirsty and hungry, while her grandmother lay dead in the bathroom.
The 15-month-old baby somehow survived almost a week on her own after her grandma, Annette, died of natural causes, WBIR reported. The woman was watching baby Brier while her own daughter, Tracy, was in county jail.
She’d been locked up there since early September, and since then, her mother came often to see her. But several days had passed and Tracy hadn’t seen Annette. She also tried to get her on the phone for a few days.
On Saturday, she asked her boyfriend, Anthony Waldo, to check on her mother and the baby. Waldo told WVLT about that call.
“I got a phone call from Tracy saying something’s wrong…something’s very wrong. I’m basically like [Brier’s] godfather. Throughout her whole life, her short little fifteen months that she’s been here, I’ve tried to help her out.”
He rushed to Annette’s house. When he arrived, the front glass storm door was locked, but the inside wooden one was still open, WATE reported. Through that glass, Anthony saw a scene he won’t soon forget.
“Brier was in her crib and she stood up heard my voice and kind of reached out to me. I told Tracy, ‘I see Brier’ and she said ‘Break that door down,’” he recalled.
So that’s what he did. As the baby reached out her arms, “crying for attention,” Waldo busted down the door and ran to the bedroom towards Brier. When he picked her up, he said she was weak, smelled of urine, and her lips were swollen. She had no tears to cry, she was so dehydrated. For days, she had apparently survived in that house through some ordeal, that much was obvious.
“When I grabbed her, she just couldn’t hold her head up. She was just hugging on me and collapsed on me.”
He next tried to open a bathroom door, but something was blocking it. Opening the door a few inches, Waldo spied a human limb on the floor, so he called the police and went outside to wait. The limb on the floor belonged to the woman who had been caring for Brier — Annette Ineichen.
First responders said she’d been dead for “some period of time,” meaning the baby survived on her own for several days. The last time anyone spoke to the woman was November 7, and she was found on November 14. The condition of the body indicates she could’ve been dead for three to five days, or up to seven, said Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp.
“It’s heartbreaking any time you find a child in any kind of condition that’s in need of help. Certainly, it’s a good feeling whenever you’re able to do something in a positive way that affects the welfare of that child.”
They don’t yet know how she died, but authorities suspect natural causes and not foul play. Neighbor Jaimie McMahon felt guilty for not suspecting something was wrong — the family usually kept to themselves.
“We didn’t know and we could have been right there and we could have helped,” she noted. “I know that Ineichen and Tracy were very proud of that little girl… Just the other day they were out taking pictures of her in her little Minnie Mouse costume. So she was loved.”
And she’s thankful the child survived, a fact her 6-year-old child attributed to God not wanting “one of his beautiful creations to die.”
After she survived on her own, the baby is doing well. Though she survived through several harrowing days, Brier was malnourished and dehydrated as a result and is slowly recovering at the hospital, according to her rescuer.
“Every day she got a little stronger, a little bit better. Today, she wasn’t able to stand on her own. She was very wobbly, but she is a lot healthier. She’s coming back to her natural self. She’s smiling and laughing.”
Child services is working to place the baby and Waldo is helping the baby remember her grandmother and all the fun things they did together.
[Image via Shutterstock]