NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk police say two people have been charged in connection to the death of a child in the East Ocean View section of the city.
The child’s mother, 23-year-old Shelby R. Love, and her boyfriend, 33-year-old John Tucker Hardee, have been charged with felony child abuse and neglect.
In court on Wednesday, a Norfolk judge assigned Love and Hardee public defenders. A bond hearing was set for April 30.
Officers were called to the area of the 9600 block of 20th Bay Street just before 3:45 a.m. for an unresponsive child.
Paramedics took a young girl, who they say had burns on several areas of her body, to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, where she was pronounced dead.
Police say the girl was 2 years old. A male called 911, but it was unclear who made the call.
A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
8News Sister Station WAVY spoke with neighbors about the incident.
Krista Harden, who lives in the complex, said she used to see the girl running and dancing.
“It’s sad to know a little girl I’ve seen before is no longer here,” she said.
Harden was hopeful that the cause of death was natural, but the sight of officers taking things from the apartment was unsettling.
“To see them taking things from the house, I feel like it was more than something natural. It’s sad and scary to know something happened right there,” she said.
Neighbor Vanita Hurt agrees.
“I awoke from my sleep to see the news and the front of my house. I said ‘woah.’ Everything flashed back real quick,” she said.
Hurt said it’s upsetting because she believes she heard loud, distressful crying coming from that apartment a week ago.
“You hear children crying all the time. Sometimes you don’t know. In hindsight, I feel a little troubled that I didn’t call someone to do a wellness check or knock on the door myself,” Hurt said.
Hurt said she also heard people from the apartment arguing earlier this week but doesn’t know if it’s connected to the death investigation.
Regardless, she said it’s a lesson to herself and others that they should check on their neighbors more, in case this was something preventable.
“In my heart of hearts, I felt like something was wrong and I did nothing and that’s the troubling part,” she said.
Both Love and Hardee are being held in the Norfolk City Jail without bond.