The thought of leaving your child with a stranger is scary for a new parent. Who could you possibly trust with the life of your little one? Even today, when you can perform extensive background checks and investigate any potential babysitter’s social media accounts to get a sense of the type of person you’re hiring, there are still things you may miss.
The Perfect Babysitter Isn’t Always Perfect
This was the case for the Matney family, who hired a perfect candidate who turned out to be a mommy’s worst nightmare. Click through to read the Matney’s scary brush with a babysitter gone bad.
Chris and Whitney Matney Have A Baby Girl
Chris and Whitney Matney, a Springdale, Arkansas couple, became proud parents to a baby girl in 2011 with the birth of their daughter Raylee. Chris and Whitney had been trying to have children and start their own family for some time, so Raylee was a dream come true. Unfortunately, sometimes parenthood squashes other dreams that just can’t be achieved without help. Whitney wanted to go back to law school, but Chris was working full time. In order to get a degree, Whitney would have to hire some help. They started looking for a nanny to help care for Raylee while they were at work.
Finding A Great Nanny Was No Easy Task
Chris and Whitney Matney started their search for a nanny to help while they were away at work and school. Whitney didn’t even consider starting law school until she could find someone suitable, but it turned out to be a whole lot harder than she thought. The search was chock full of bad choices. Occasionally, there was a solid candidate, but even then, Whitney had to cope with the idea of leaving her baby with someone she didn’t know. She considered giving up on her dreams of law school altogether until she stumbled upon Melissa Medema, the perfect nanny who would nearly ruin her life.
Melissa Medema And Whitney Found Each Other Through Facebook
Whitney was starting to lose hope about finding a trustworthy babysitter. This is when she posted a status on Facebook asking her friends if they new anyone who’d be a good fit, but there’s a reason you’re not supposed to meet strangers from the Internet. Hiring a babysitter you found through a social network is a huge risk (we all know the show Catfish exists for a reason), but Melissa Medema actually seemed like she’d be perfect. She wasn’t a total stranger, but rather a trustworthy person from Whitney’s past. Melissa and Whitney were old high school classmates. They reconnected after Whitney posted a Facebook status asking about babysitters and Medema reached out about the job.
Whitney Matney Gathered Her References
Whitney Matney took all the appropriate precautions, even if she knew Melissa Medema from high school. Most people wouldn’t consider running a background check on a former classmate, but Whitney did. She responded to Medema’s post asking to meet up and did some research on her former classmate as an extra precaution. She checked out with glowing recommendations from former employers. There was no reason not to hire her. Whitney decided it was time for Melissa to meet her baby girl Raylee, and the pair instantly hit it off. She seemed like a perfect fit, but strange things quickly started to happen after she was hired.
Raylee’s Behavior Made A Sharp Change
Melissa started watching Raylee a week after the initial interview. After the first night, Raylee’s behavior had already drastically changed. When Whitney went to take Raylee to bed after Melissa left, Raylee started clinging to her and screaming. She seemed skittish and scared.
“I’d never heard her scream like that before. I just thought she wasn’t wanting to go to bed,” Whitney said. This went on for two weeks, even though Melissa said that Raylee had taken four hour naps every single day. Melissa chalked it up to anxiety, but things got worse from there.
Doctors Thought Teething Or Typical One-Year-Old Clinginess Were To Blame
Worried after Raylee started screaming every night before bed, Whitney took her daughter to the doctor. The doctor noticed that Raylee’s molars were growing in a lot slower than average, which was probably throwing off her schedule because teething hurts! Whitney spoke to a number of doctors who confirmed that teething and separation anxiety could be the cause of Raylee’s tantrums. Around one-year-old, children start to experience separation anxiety from their parents. It was also the first time both Whitney and Chris would leave her alone, but things never ended up getting better.
Raylee Showed Increased Signs Of Anxiety
Raylee started to show more worrying signs. She wasn’t just clingy when Whitney came home, but she was crying and clinging to her mother when the doorbell rang each morning when Melissa arrived. Again, Whitney chalked this up to separation anxiety. She thought Raylee just knew that the doorbell meant it was time for her to go to work, so she’d throw a tantrum to get her mother to say. In reality, no one could imagine the horrors happening behind the scenes at the Matley household. Whitney also started noticing some worrying behavior from Melissa that she couldn’t ignore.
Whitney Saw Some Worrying Behavior One Day During Lunch
One day when Melissa was watching Raylee, Whitney decided to come home for lunch. Melissa reported that Raylee had been napping for an hour, and Whitney was concerned that she had taken a nap so early in the day. She wrote it off, thinking that if Raylee was really that tired, the early nap was okay. While Whitney sat down to eat, Raylee woke up from her nap. She went in and gave Raylee a cuddle and played with her a little bit before she got a headache. Whitney decided to take a 10 minute nap in hopes it would go away. The headache was gone after her nap, but the memory of what happened would never leave Whitney’s mind.
Raylee Started Screaming And Melissa Left Her Alone
Whitney was awoken five minutes after she left the room to nap by Raylee’s screams. She jumped up and ran into the living room to find Melissa standing alone. Melissa had put Raylee back to bed, shut the door and left her alone in her crib. She told Whitney that Raylee was rubbing her eyes so she must have still been tired. Whitney was unsettled because Raylee just woke up. She scolded Melissa and said that Raylee was just allowed one nap per day. Even though Melissa apologized, Whitney felt deeply unsettled. She decided to install a nanny cam.
The Nanny Cam
Whitney purchased a nanny camera from Brick House Security and installed it in their living room. The red flags just kept waving. After the first night, Whitney came home to find that the camera had been tampered with. The camera was turned away from the living to the wall.
“I looked over and I saw the camera sitting there. And it was facing the wall. I immediately — my heart just leapt in my throat,” Whitney said.
If Melissa wasn’t doing anything why would she have turned the nanny cam around? Things started getting more and more suspicious until the Matneys finally caught Melissa doing something so horrific it just can’t be forgiven.
The Nanny Cam Footage Was Absolutely Horrific
Melissa reviewed the nanny cam footage after the camera had been turned around. It was more horrific than anyone could have imagined. Video footage showed Melissa shaking Raylee three times and hitting her on her back and bottom. She took her to her bouncer and left her there alone for hours at a time. She also dropped Raylee from a standing position, which is when she saw the camera and turned it around. Before she turned it around, Melissa stared at the camera with cold, hard eyes. She knew what she had been caught doing and she wasn’t ashamed.
Setting Up The Sting
Whitney and Chris immediately called the police after seeing the terrifying footage of Raylee being abused. They waited two excruciatingly long days to set up the sting where they couldn’t do anything in between. If Melissa skipped town before she was caught in the act, she would never be charged for her crimes. Two days after the Matneys called the police, Melissa showed up for work and was greeted by two angry parents and several police officers. She was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, which only carries a 90 day sentence.
Whitney and Chris were deeply saddened by the leeway given to Melissa for her crimes. Melissa ended up pleading guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the 1st degree, which is a class D felony. It never ended up going to trial, where Melissa could have gotten six years in prison. She would have only had to serve one year of that and could have even gotten off with nothing if the judge had chosen not to convict her. She took the plea and saw 90 days in jail and 4 years of probation, a pittance compared to the damage she caused.
Melissa Could Have Her Crimes Expunged From Her Record
The most unsettling part of the Matneys’ story is that Melissa could have her crimes expunged from her record, meaning she could potentially be hired again by another family who had no idea about what she’d done. Under Act 346, the First Time Offender Act, Melissa could petition for the court to have her felony expunged. Though the First Time Offender Act can’t be used if the felony was violent, it’s fully up to the court. Even further, if Melissa proves she has a job, she could get work release where she would be allowed to leave jail to work and come back at night.
Raylee Underwent Traumatic Doctors’ Visits
No small child should have to get MRIs and X-Rays, but after being shaken and dropped by Melissa, Raylee would have to undergo serious medical testing. After Melissa’s arrest, Police escorted the Matneys to the emergency room where Raylee got an MRI and X-Rays over her entire body to check for internal bleeding and brain injuries. She also had to have her eyes dilated to check for bleeding in her brain and visit a child psychologist twice. Unfortunately, Raylee had completely changed because of the traumatic ordeal. She was no longer the happy baby the Matneys knew.
Raylee’s Personality Changed After Her Abuse
Raylee used to be a happy, loving child who slept through the night. She was anything but clingy and rather independent for a child of just 12 months of age. She was also an extremely social baby and was interactive with the people she encountered. After the four weeks she spent with Melissa, Raylee became a different baby. She was terrified of being left alone and had to sleep with her parents to get any sleep at all. She was afraid of her room, where the abuse took place. According to her mother, she’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming.
“The screams weren’t a regular baby crying. They were screams of fear,” Whitney said. “It broke our hearts to hear her going through that.”
Whitney Started Fighting For Change
Whitney was horrified at the idea that Melissa’s crimes could be expunged from her record. She started advocating for a Child Abuse Registry in her home state of Arkansas. Like the Sex Offender Registry, a Child Abuse Registry would be available to all residents and show the names of nearby residents who have been convicted of child abuse. It would protect families from unknowingly falling into a situation like the Matleys, especially if charges have been expunged. As it is now, there are too many loopholes, like how Raylee suffered no physical injuries so Melissa plead guilty to a less serious charge.
Whitney Matney Takes On 20/20
28-year-old Whitney Matney went on ABC News’ 20/20 to share her family’s brush with horror and spread awareness to other families.
“You see these horror stories on TV, and it’s like a surreal feeling when it happens to you,” Whitney said. “The fact that this monster — there’s no other way to describe her, you know — if this monster can walk around, watch other children and have no ramifications at the end of four years, it’s just beyond insane,” she continued, speaking on Melissa’s lenient sentence.
Melissa told reporters that she believes people who have done this type of crime and had their records expunged should have their faces out there for parents to see.
Raylee Moves On And The Matneys Introduce A New Bill
Raylee’s ordeal was quite traumatic, but the Matneys are proud to report she’s currently happy and healthy. Time heals all wounds, but the Matneys hope these wounds will never happen to another child again. Currently, the Matneys are working with Arkansas lawmakers Representative Greg Leding and Senator John Woods to help protect unknowing families.
“In 2015, we’re going to send out a bill asking that they actually implement the child abuse registry. Arkansas will be the first state to have one, if it passes,” she said. Only time will tell.
Another Nanny Cam Catching A Bad Nanny
It would be foolish to believe that the Raylee case is the only nanny gone wrong case out there. And you would be naive to not be precautious about who you bring into your home to let watch your child when you cannot. All over America, there are situations like this going on. Another one that took place recently took place in Northern California in a city called Livermore.
A woman by the name of Moriah Gonzales was accused of something vile involving a child she was watching. The 20-year-old Bay Area native was charged with felony child abuse after a hidden camera caught her in the act.
Advertised Her Services On Popular Website
These days, pretty much everything can be found on the internet. Whatever you may be looking for is on there and even if you look hard enough, you can find government secrets but we just call them “conspiracy theories”. This means that many of the information you find can be true but lies are also a possibility.
Gonzales happened to advertise her services on the website Care.com. Like we said earlier, it would naive to believe that every person on this site knows what they’re doing and are trust worthy candidates. Always tread softly, folks.
What Did She Do?
On Feb. 19, Moriah Gonzales (20) was arrested after the parents of the 13-month-old boy parents made a call to the Livermore police. Thanks to a hidden camera, they were able to see the child abuse in action but what did she do? According to reports, the camera was hidden well in the boy’s room and the video starts off showing Gonzales holding the baby face to face as she paces back and forth.
She was trying to calm him down but was having no luck, obviously. What happened next is what warranted the call to the cops.
Call The Cops, Quick!
After having no success at pacing and trying to put the baby to sleep, a mother’s nightmare happened next. You could hear the crying in the video as Gonzales then lays the baby down. Her back was to the video but the clear audio of crying quickly turned into a muffled cry. What could she have been doing?
Only a few seconds later, the boy started to squirm and kick around before going limp. The police report says the video showed Gonzales “holding him with her hands nearing his face, but clear audible crying could still be heard.”
What Else Did The Video Reveal?
The baby was trying to be suffocated and once he became limp, Gonzales made more jail time worthy moves. Officer Taylor Burruss of the Livermore police described the cringeworthy video in detail and it wasn’t pretty. After the first attempt at suffocating, read what she did next.
“Once limp, Gonzales flung him over her shoulder, with the back of his head on her shoulder but facing up,” he said. “When the woman moved her hands away from the boy’s face, clear whimpering could be heard, and his arms extended out, appearing limp.” What could have taken place afterward?
Denying Trying to Hurt The Child
After picking the baby up, Gonzales simply puts the limp child back down in the crib and left the room. The same day the footage was scene was the same day it was reported. One of the boy’s parents told Gonzales to leave the home and then the police were immediately called.
The next day, Burrus contacted Gonzales for a statement and her story didn’t quite match up with the video. He said, “she seemed surprised that there was a nanny camera in the room and she denied hurting the boy.” At that point, why lie?
According To The Documents
In order to protect the identity of the child, reports refer to him as John Doe. Reports are quite consistent with what was reported to be seen on the video.
“Moriah was pacing the room, apparently attempting to calm Doe by bouncing him up and down repeatedly,” said the charging document. “Moriah turned her back toward the camera, opened the closet door and faced the closet. She then lowered John Doe into a position so that she was holding him with her hands nearing his face, but clear audible crying could still be heard. Moriah then placed her hands closer to Doe’s face and the sounds went from clear and audible to a muffled cry.” Neighbor Van Hoose said, “she obviously didn’t know she was on camera.”
What The Police Are Asking
We mentioned earlier that Gonzales advertised herself on Care.com. The cops wanted to know if anyone else had used her services or knew of anyone that used her services. They asked that anyone with any information call them. Care.com also released the following statement.
“We are deeply troubled by this incident and our thoughts are with the family,” said Care. “The safety of our community is of paramount importance to us and we have proactively contacted local law enforcement to provide whatever assistance we can in this matter.” Great to see they are taking some responsibility in this serious matter.
When a criminal is trying to hard to not be suspicious then chances are they are going to appear to be suspicious. We think since Gonzales told the cops that she didn’t hurt the baby (even though she was on camera) she is trying to stick to what she originally said but her actions and those around her are making things worse for her.
A reporter tried calling a number that was listed under Gonzales name but a woman answered and was hung up on. Also, someone peeped through the blinds at her home but did not answer the door.
Pleading In Court
Arrested on Feb. 19, Gonzales stuck to her guns in court. “Nothing I’ve seen indicates a felony was committed,” said her attorney William DuBois. We know what the reports have said now but DuBois seems to find fallacies in the reports. He thinks they are “way over-charged”.
The one thing besides video evidence that the cops have over Gonzales is that her story was inconsistent with what they saw in the video. DuBois said he thinks there are “some inaccuracies” in the probable cause statement and a pediatrician examined the boy afterward and “found no injuries whatsoever”. This is what made Gonzales plead not guilty in court.
What To Expect
Now that you know all the facts, would you convict Gonzales? The video evidence seems pretty straight forward but the attorney did make some valuable points. If the baby was not harmed then could this just be a case of inappropriately handling a child and never letting Gonzales watch another kid again?
At her hearing, Gonzales was ordered to stay away from children under the age of 18. Gonzales was set free on a $100,00 bail. Now do these all sound like they are fair or should this case be a mistrial?
A Special Situation
This type of thing can happen to all children, just ask Mother Dyanna Ko. A mom living in Redondo Beach, California discovered some disheartening actions from the nanny she had hired. It all took place in her own living room. Ko, one day checked her phone to see her nanny cam app so that she can check in on her two-year-old son who has special needs.
The nurse there was not doing her job at all, she was doing the exact opposite and it shook ko to her bones. What exactly could she had been doing?
Instead of watching the baby, she was beating the poor child. The nanny cam saw the whole thing. “I told the other moms,” Ko said. “I said I think I see my special needs baby being abused. I think I’m going to pass out.” Abusing babies is one thing that is foul as it gets but to abuse a child with special needs makes it that much worse.
It’s impossible to ask anyone what they would do in this situation but it is fair to ask what they think unraveled next, so what do you think?
Landon is an adorable young boy. Why would anyone want to harm him? He is very fragile. Landon has Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome which is a rare genetic condition that has the capabilities to cause different physical and intellectual disabilities. Because of this condition, he is forced to eat through a feeding tube, he is non-verbal and needs 24-hour care.
A child like this doesn’t deserve any type of maltreatment in his life. Unfortunately, there is one point in the video where you see the nurse roll up a magazine so she can use it to hit Landon.
Having To Watch It Live
Most times, people just hear about the lewd acts afterward. The devastation sets in and they become more emotional because they were unable to do anything about it. This time, things changed. As the painful scene was taking place, Mother Ko was watching it live. She and her husband were at least 20 minutes away from their home watching another son’s basketball game.
“My husband was in the parking lot, moving the car at the time,” Ko said. “I told them if I passed out look at the video because this is what I see going on.”
A Feeling Of Failure
The parents immediately called the cops and they rushed to the scene. Meanwhile, during the rush to their home, they must have been feeling a certain way about this whole thing. Whether it be anger or sadness, a feeling was felt. When the cops got there they arrested the nurse who was identified as Thelma Manalastas.
“I just feel like as his parents, we failed him, because we left someone to take care of him,” Ko said. “Just to see him so helpless, it was heart-wrenching,” Ko’s husband, Chris, said. “We had to force ourselves to watch it live.”
A Statement From Thelma’s Employer
Just like with the previous abuse and Care.com, the company that employed Thelma also released a statement about the whole fiasco. Even though they did not commit the crime, it is always a good PR move to show that you care about the situation rather than just sitting back and hoping it would all just be Thelma’s problem.
“Upon learning of this incident, we conducted an investigation that resulted in the termination of Ms. Manalastas’ employment with Maxim,” said Maxim Healthcare Services. “We have notified the California Board of Nursing and will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities as they investigate this matter.”
Bring On The Lawsuits
Even with the explanation that Maxim sent out, Ko’s lawyer thought it wasn’t enough. And quite frankly, we think that isn’t enough either. We’ve already outlined how vile it is to hurt young children but to hurt one that has special needs is a new level. Simply relinquishing her of her job isn’t going to cut it. Reparations should be paid to this family. The mom was moments away from passing out!
The lawyer, Scott Dinsmore, said the beating was “the worst case” he has ever seen of “somebody taking advantage” of a vulnerable person.
Officially, the family has filed a lawsuit against Maxim and the nurse. Unlike the last case, this evidence is way more helpful to the family and the condition of Landon makes it that much worse for any case that Maxim or the nurse tries to build against it. Can you blame them for filing a lawsuit because we can’t. Justice deserves to be served to anyone who is involved in these acts.
“He’s not verbal,” said Ko. “He’s already blind in one eye. And he’s 100 percent fed by a feeding tube.” Where is the justice?
For The Future
Parents that have gone through anything like this need to band together and find out ways so that they can help prevent this. Better background checks need to be going on for nurses or anyone applying for a nanny job. An emergency button needs to be equipped with the nanny camera or something that can help prevent the act from going on.
The crazy thing is, Maxim is already involved in other abuse lawsuits in other states. the Ko’s are determined to help other families to avoid traumas. “I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that,” said Ko.