The family of slain toddler Kayleigh Slusher is receiving $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and county accused of failing to properly investigate allegations that the girl’s mother was abusive.
The 3-year-old girl was tortured and murdered by her mother and mother’s boyfriend in 2014. The girl’s body was found partially frozen after being placed in a freezer in her mother’s apartment. As People magazine reported, the city and county of Napa, California, have agreed to each pay $2.5 million to Kayleigh’s father, Jason Slusher, and grandparents, Robin and Benny Slusher.
Kayleigh Slusher’s death had garnered national attention at the time. Investigators found signs of horrific abuse, including 41 distinct injuries on the toddler’s body and a rupture in her small intestine that led to her death.
The girl’s mother, Sara Lynn Krueger, and mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, were both convicted of first-degree murder in a joint trial heard by two separate juries. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the couple had been accused of abusing methamphetamine in the months leading up to the girl’s death.
The trial included graphic details of the girl’s torture and murder, leading to an emotional scene for one of the officers involved. Officer Robert Chambers had been called to the couple’s home just days before the girl’s death as Krueger and Warner had an argument. The little girl sat on her mother’s lap as Chambers spoke to the couple.
Chambers said he returned days later after an anonymous call that something had happened to the girl. He struggled to recount what he found inside.
“I could see a face,” Chambers said, via the Napa Valley Register. “I thought it was a doll,” he said, becoming overcome with emotion. “I realized that it was the little girl I had talked to a couple of days ago.”
The trial paused as Chambers sobbed on the stand, a bailiff handing him tissues. Chambers explained that the girl was dead, her body covered in bruises and her skin unusually cold.
Witnesses who knew the couple recounted their spiraling drug abuse, saying they were smoking methamphetamine daily and leaving the girl alone to watch television. During this period, police interactions with the couple increased, but Kayleigh remained in their care and continued to live in the home until her death.
Kayleigh’s father and grandparents had sued the city and county in 2015, claiming that both police and child welfare services failed to properly investigate allegations that her mother was abusive. Police had been called to the mother’s apartment five times, including three times in the last two weeks of Kayleigh’s life.