Shelby Love and John Hardee are behind bars after the gruesome death of a 2-year-old girl whose body was reportedly covered with burn marks from scalding hot water.
Police arrested the 23-year-old mother and her 33-year-old boyfriend this week after the girl died at a local hospital. As WAVY reported, police were called to the family’s apartment in the early morning hours on Monday for a report of an unresponsive child. Paramedics rushed the toddler to a nearby hospital, but she was pronounced dead.
At the hospital, doctors found signs of what appeared to be horrific burns. The girl had burn marks across her body from scalding water, 13 News reported, though it was not immediately clear if she was burned intentionally or if it was an accident. The name of the deceased toddler has not yet been released.
Shelby Love and John Hardee have been charged with felony child abuse and neglect. Love is the child’s mother, but Hardee’s exact connection to the girl was not released. Police said a male called 911 to report that the girl was not responsive, but they did not say if it was Hardee or another man.
Police are investigating the incident as an undetermined death, WTKR reported. The office of the chief medical examiner is now working to find an exact cause of death, the report added. It was not clear if the charges against Love and Hardee could be upgraded after an exact cause of death is released, but a judge indicated this week that more charges could be added.
Neighbors said they were shocked at the young girl’s death, saying that she was often seen playing in the apartment complex where the family lived. One neighbor, Vanita Hurt, said she had heard “loud, distressful crying” coming from the apartment one week before the girl’s death.
Hurt told WAVY that she now regrets not going to check on the girl.
“You hear children crying all the time. Sometimes you don’t know. In hindsight, I feel a little troubled that I didn’t call someone to do a wellness check or knock on the door myself,” Hurt said.
Norfolk police investigating "undetermined death" of 2-year-old girl https://t.co/N3Met3kLgr
— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) April 24, 2018
Hardee had been charged with abuse before, WTKR reported.
— Brian Hill WTKR (@BrianHillWTKR) April 25, 2018
Shelby Love and John Hardee have been assigned public defenders, WAVY noted, and are due back in court on Monday. The couple is being held without bond.