When you bring a child into the world, you want to do everything for them. You want to provide a stable home, love, and protection. That’s exactly what Whitney and Chris Matney did for their new little girl.
But, after a while of getting to know her habits and mannerisms, they began to notice a change. She was acting strangely. So, Whitney decided to put up a hidden camera and what she saw on the video was absolutely shocking.
2011 was a year that would bring big change to the Matney family. The couple from Springdale, Arkansas was about to be expecting a new baby girl. They couldn’t contain their excitement.
When Whitney gave birth to their new little girl, Raylee, it was a breath of fresh air for the family.
Needed A Good Nanny
It was a new situation, but they were going to adapt well. Whitney was going to law school, so it was important for her to find a caregiver while she was at school.
She took every precaution she could. She even posted on Facebook hoping that one of their nannies could possibly be up for the job.
There’s No Way To Be 100% Sure
She got a message from an old high school friend, Melissa Medema, saying that she’s interested and would like to meet.
There’s literally no way to be 100% sure that a nanny is going to be a good fit until you give them a chance. It’s a scary thought, but recommendations can only go so far.
The Horror Stories
It won’t take you long to find a nanny horror story. Whether it’s stealing from the house, abusing the children, or heck, stealing the husband, it seems to happen all the time.
But, no matter how many times you hear these stories, you could never think that it could happen to you.
She Checked All The Boxes
Since Whitney had already known Melissa, she did a quick scroll of her Facebook page and saw nothing alarming.
She even called her reference who gave her a glowing recommendation. Then, she brought Melissa in to see her daughter and it went well. There was no reason to think anything bad could come of the situation.
Law School Mom
Whitney was a go-getter. She was not a house-mom or wife by any means. After a few months spending time with Raylee, she was ready to get back to school.
She experienced tremendous amounts of anxiety over the fact that she was going to be leaving her daughter. It killed her inside.
All Is Good, Right?
After they left their baby girl with Melissa on the first day, everything seemed to be going great. They came back and everything was still standing.
They didn’t see anything wrong, and many of their anxieties were relieved. But, later that evening, they noticed that Raylee was acting very weird.
They couldn’t pinpoint what the problem was. Something didn’t sit right with Whitney. Was her baby sick? Was she just tired and couldn’t sleep the night before? Or, maybe the transition over to Melissa was just going to take longer than she thought.
There were many questions that floated around and the couple had no answers.
Maybe She Was Just Getting Used To Someone New In Her Life
Even as an adult, we have to take some time to get used to change. The idea that Raylee would be any different was just out of the question. In Whitney’s head, Raylee just had to get used to a stranger’s presence.
But, the strange behavior didn’t stop. It just escalated.
Just Overthinking It?
Raylee had never taken naps over an hour, and she started taking four hour long naps. She was an incredibly rambunctious child, so what was making her so exhausted?
Was this just another case of new parents overthinking absolutely everything their first child does? Well, Whitney took Raylee to the doctor just to be sure.
Nothing Out Of The Ordinary
There was no physical harm to the child. Raylee seemed to be in pain, so Whitney really emphasized that something was wrong. But, the doctor said there was nothing wrong with her.
There was no sign that her daughter was even in pain, explained the doctor. He thought that she was maybe just experiencing separation anxiety.
It’s Very Common
Separation anxiety happens to children when they’re young and get scared to be alone without their parents in the room.
It’s very common in children who are six months of age and can reach a high point between 10-18 months. This anxiety usually manifests itself as the child becomes clingy and cries whenever their parents aren’t around.
It Seemed Much More Than That
But to Whitney, she still had a bad gut feeling about the whole situation. She started to think that this behavior was a result of something Melissa was doing.
This clock would end up uncovering a lot of answers for Whitney, and it wasn’t going to be a pleasant sight.
Not Your Everday Clock
It took about a month for Whitney to feel like it was time to do some investigating on her own. She got a clock with a small little camcorder inside. It was an unnoticeable lens that was ready to capture any misbehavior from the nanny.
It didn’t take long for the camera to capture something that was truly heartbreaking to Whitney.
Her Fear Was Validated
Whitney was trembling she was so angry. The clock had been completely turned around by Melissa, which begs the questions as to whether or not she knew she was being recorded.
Whitney rushed to her computer to plug in the camcorder. Had it recorded anything other than the wall? Was it all for not?
It Only Took A Day
It turns out that the little girl was being abused routinely. Melissa, the apparently trustworthy nanny with great references and a long history with Whitney, wasn’t the woman they thought she was.
The first day the recording started was the last day that Melissa would be a nanny in that household.
The Camcorder Showed Neglect
All of Whitney’s fears were for good reason. The video showed that Melissa left Raylee in a jumper for two straight hours without coming back to get her.
She was left thirsty, hungry, and suffering. She was helplessly stuck in the same position for hours on end while Melissa did her own thing.
That Wasn’t The Worst Of It
The nanny cam went on to show that Melissa was also violent with her abuse. She was seen shaking and spanking Raylee incredibly hard in order to get her to stop.
She was shaken until she was dizzy and disoriented which was usually when she would stop crying. It was horrific.
Long-Term Health Effects
It’s common knowledge that if you shake a baby too hard it can cause long-term damage. It’s called Shaken Baby Syndrome, which can cause severe brain damage.
There are no physical signs, which is why it’s so hard to know if it’s affecting the baby unless you actually see it happening.
Raylee Was Rushed To The Hospital
Whitney was shaken to her core, and distraught with what she was seeing. She immediately rushed her daughter to the emergency room fearing the worst.
There was finally an answer as to why Raylee was acting so different. As for Melissa, well, Whitney called the police and told them everything.
She Had The Recordings
The evidence was pretty clear against Melissa. She was caught red-handed on the video abusing a child that was defenseless.
Melissa showed up to work the next day as if it were any other day. But, it was going to be anything but normal for her. The police ambushed her.
Preyed On The Innocent
As she got out of her car, she was taken to the police station almost immediately.
Whitney managed to get one last picture of her getting arrested through her front window. Finally, Melissa was getting what she had coming to her. She was a heartless person who preyed on the innocent and the helpless.
Some Bad News
There was some bad news though. Melissa could only be charged with a Class-D felony because it was Melissa’s first offense.
She was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. It was the lowest felony charge that she could’ve got. It basically meant that Melissa wouldn’t pay for her crimes.
This Was Shocking
Not only would Melissa only have to serve a maximum of three months in jail, but she could also resume her job as a nanny afterward. The charge would be taken off her record in three-years time.
There is no national registry for child abusers, which meant that she could strike again.
Whitney Made It Her Duty
For Whitney, it was crucial that she wouldn’t let another family have to go through what her family did. She wanted to ensure that no other little child was going to be abused at the hands of Melissa.
She went to the media, and anyone who would listen to her story.
But, Was It Enough?
But was that going to be enough to ensure that the child abuser stayed blacklisted from people’s houses? Not everyone was going to be exposed to the story.
So, she set out to propose a bill that would make Arkansas the first state with a child abuse registry. Anyone convicted of abuse would have to be in the registry.
Melissa still has not told her side of the story, and I assume for good reason. She never talked to the media or did an interview trying to provide any explanations as to what was really happening.
We still don’t know what her motives were, but we do know that she won’t be a nanny ever again.
It Seemed The Campaigning Worked
Whitney made it her life goal to ensure that no other child would have to face abuse from their nanny. She campaigned and gathered hundreds of supporters.
She was even able to put her law degree to good use by adding a professional and constitutional argument to her cause, which was great.
How Is Raylee Doing?
I know what you’re wondering, “so, how is Raylee doing today?”
Well, she’s doing great. The doctors did extensive testing and scans on Raylee when she was brought into the hospital that first time. They said she was very lucky to not have had any significant damage to her brain.
She Lights Up A Room
The Matney family is doing better than ever. Whitney recently said in an interview that “Raylee is doing great. She is energetic, sassy, and always smiling.”
Some psychological issues could manifest later on in life, as they do for some babies who have Shaken Baby Syndrome, but the family will take those in stride.