CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police have charged two people in connection with a fatal child abuse case that the Kannapolis Police Department's Chief has called "one of the worst child abuse cases in his 30 years".
Kannapolis Police have charged 30-year-old John Travis Turner and 20-year-old Alisha Nicole Carlisle in the death of 15-month-old Malaya Faith Heun.
“When I lost Malaya, I lost everything,” said her mother, Christy Heun. “It is hard for me to comprehend my baby went through all that, and I couldn’t do nothing to stop it.”
Malaya was brutally assaulted on January 19 of this year and died two days later at CMC Main from complications of blunt force trauma and hypovolemic shock.
Police say Malaya was in the care of her aunt and aunt’s boyfriend when she became unresponsive on January 19. She was admitted to CMC Kannapolis before being airlifted to Charlotte.
Heun says her sister and boyfriend moved into her apartment in December.
“He is the reason why she didn’t protect my baby,” she said.
Heun was at work when her child was taken to the hospital. The mother of four, had been under fire by some wondering how she could have let the abuse go on unnoticed.
At the time of her injury, she was out supporting her family, and said she typically worked 18 hour days, and 5-6 days a week.
“That was my sister. I left her with people I thought I could trust,” she said.
The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded an autopsy on Malaya, and released those results last week.
Malaya’s death has been determined to be septic shock following blunt force trauma to the abdomen. The report listed several injuries including clavicle and rib fractures, some bruising on her head and hemorrhaging. The examiner said there were not any signs of sexual abuse, but did say there were signs of repeated trauma.
Turner and Carlisle are each charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse-inflicting serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.
Inside the Criminal Investigations Division of the Kaanapolis Police Department, detectives wrote the number of days on a dry-erase board, marking the days since her death.
Heun thanked investigators for their dedication, and knew that her daughter’s picture was up on the desk of every detective working her case.
“It is just a constant reminder of why we do our jobs,” said Lt. Terry Spry.
“We were all emotionally tied to this case. You don’t have to be a parent to have an emotional attachment to a little child.”
Lt. Spry says there was a sense of “relief,” following the arrest, knowing they’ve done all they could to put a solid case together for the prosecution.
Huen has had no contact with her sister since Malaya was taken to the hospital. She says the charge against her youngest sister is especially difficult on her own mother,
“My mom is taking it pretty hard. She don’t know what to do, if I was in her shoes, I wouldn’t know what to do, because I couldn’t choose between my kids.”
Carlisle and Turner remain at the Rowan County Detention Center, and due in court on Wednesday.