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Mother charged with neglect after 6-month old baby's 2019 death

Prosecutors charged Tenisha Echols on January 12
De'Reya died at six months old. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Posted at 4:14 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 16:14:53-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County prosecutors have charged an Indianapolis mother with child neglect following the 2019 death of her 6-month-old baby girl.

On January 12, prosecutors charged Tenisha Echols with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury.

Echols was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail on February 4.

Echols' daughter, De’Reya, died on Dec. 27, 2019.

The coroner found the baby suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled the Renton Street death a homicide.

Prosecutors believe Echols put the baby in a situation that endangered her life.

According to court documents, Echols left De’Reya with her father while she submitted a drug test for a pending Department of Child Services case involving De’Reya.

De’Reya tested positive for cocaine at the time of her birth and became a ward of DCS, court records show.

“She was returned to Ms. Echols’ custody in September of 2019, but the DCS case was still pending,” records show.

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While De’Reya was with her father, he called Echols numerous times while she was gone, and at one point told Echols that De’Reya was not breathing.

Echols told the father to give the baby a bath and “maybe it would wake her up.”

Echols told detectives she was not concerned and just thought the baby's father did not want to be with the baby.

Echols also told police she didn’t call for help because her phone did not make outgoing calls.

While she was gone, Echols also went with a neighbor to a doctor appointment, to a tire store and to a McDonald's.

At the time of De’Reya’s death, doctors observed numerous injuries on her body including bruising and scratches on the face, a large healing burn on her arm, a healing burn on her foot, and several healing fractures to her ribs and possible fractures to her tibia bones.

Echols denied causing the burns, and told detectives she did not seek medical care for De’Reya’s burns even after being told to do so by friends and family members.

The father gave a statement to police in which he denied being at the Echols residence on December 27, and said he hadn’t been alone with any of his children for months due to the pending DCS case involving De’Reya.

A DCS order from Oct. 3, 2019 said the father could only have supervised visits with his children.

The father has not been charged.

An autopsy noted numerous injuries to De’Reya, including two skull fractures, petechiae in one of her eyes, a healing rib fracture, and healing burns on her arm and leg.

In December 2020, WRTV spoke with the baby’s grandparents who expressed frustration that no arrests had been made.

"It's sad because we think about her often,” said Comaliana Echols, the baby’s grandmother. “She was such a beautiful baby. I miss her so much.”

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