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Dunwoody daycare owner charged with murder denied bond, now facing additional counts of child cruelty

45-year-old daycare owner Amanda Hickey was denied bond on Feb. 18 by DeKalb County Judge Stacey K. Hydrick.

DUNWOODY, Ga. — A Dunwoody daycare owner was denied bond during a hearing Thursday and court records show she is also now facing several more felony charges for alleged child cruelty.

Amanda Hickey was originally arrested on Feb. 5 by Dunwoody Police for a charge of felony murder and a single count of 2nd-degree child cruelty, following the death of a 4-month-old boy.

Police said on Feb. 3, Dunwoody officers along with the DeKalb County Fire Department were called to Hickey's home on Leisure Lane, where she was providing daycare for infants and toddlers under the name of Little Lovey daycare. Police reports detail Hickey stating she found the 4-month-old unresponsive.

"Officers arrived within minutes and began resuscitation efforts on the four-month-old infant," police said in the news release. "DeKalb County Paramedics arrived and transported the infant to an area hospital where the infant was later pronounced deceased."

According to Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) spokesperson Reg Griffin, Hickey reported the incident herself and said that the child was sleeping in a crib for a nap and was later found unresponsive.

However, the next day the department received a complaint from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) about a child's death at the same location.

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office
Amanda Harris Hickey

During her bond hearing Thursday, prosecutors described the four additional counts of child cruelty Hickey is now charged with.  The counts are described in warrants obtained by 11Alive and are based on video recordings from within the daycare on the same day as the 4-month-old boy's death, according to an officer with the Dunwoody Police department.

The warrants describe four separate incidents involving four other children.

In one warrant Hickey is accused of holding a 7-month-old with one hand by the child’s leg and letting go of him while he was upside down. “The infant then falls onto his face and head into the bottom of the pack and play,” the investigator wrote in the warrant.

In a second warrant, Hickey is accused of handling a 14-month-old with force on two occasions. First, the officer writes she grabbed the child by the shoulder and “forces the infant to lay down, by shoving her forward where the infant's face hits the mesh wall of the pack and play. This was done with such force the pack and play shifts.”

RELATED: Warrants: 4-month-old killed at daycare slept face down, was not checked on for more than 2 hours

On the same date and involving the same child, the officer claims Hickey entered the room, grabbed a “fist full” of the 14-month-old’s hair, and forced the “infant to lay down by pulling the infant by the hair forward and downward. The infant strikes the bottom of the pack and play.” The defendant is also seen “carrying the infant by the neck and arm causing the infant’s face to turn red.”

In a third warrant, Hickey is described as feeding a 10-month-old, then picking him up by one arm and setting him on the floor in front of her “with force,” as the child lands on his side. Then the officer describes Hickey lifting the child off the floor again by one arm, swinging him forward and releasing him “causing the infant's head, neck and upper back to strike the hard surface. It's obvious the child is screaming at the time” the warrant reads.

In the fourth warrant, an interaction between a 6-month old and Hickey is described, where she picks up the child with her hands under the infant’s armpits. As she raises the child up Hickey is accused of twice shaking the child in an “up and down motion.” She then according to an investigator drops the infant into a bouncer and drops a blanket on top of the bouncer and infant. The investigator wrote, “The infant is left there crying.”

Hickey's initial warrant for the murder charge that led to her arrest presents the evidence police claim details the death of the 4-month-old boy. 

In the warrant for the murder charge, a Dunwoody Police investigator writes, Hickey "placed him in the pack and play at 1:05 but did not check on him until 3:45 when he was found unresponsive. She told the detective that she put him on his back in the pack and play. She stated he must have rolled over. She stated she was trained to put children face up. The video shows her putting him down face down. He does crawl a bit but stopped around 1:45."

In a police report, Hickey is quoted as describing how she recalled the incident playing out. 

The incident report details Hickey telling officers she put a 4-month-old boy down for a nap inside a playpen with a thin mattress. In the incident report, Hickey claims she placed the boy down on his back. An officer wrote Hickey returned to the bedroom and found the boy laying "belly down in the bed." The officer states Hickey said she wasn't immediately alarmed because the boy's mother, according to Hickey, had mentioned: "he had rolled over for the first time" earlier the same week.

Hickey then noticed the boy wasn't responsive and, according to the report, called 911, started CPR, and yelled to her husband for help. 

Currently, Hickey's Little Lovey daycare is closed.

Following the child's death, the state ordered an emergency closure of the facility. Hickey had 48-hours to appeal the order, but according to a spokesman for DECAL Hickey didn't file an appeal. 

As of Feb. 10, according to the spokesman, Little Lovey "will be closed for the next 21 days while we continue to investigate the child death that occurred there on February 3. 2021.  If we determine revoking her license is necessary, the program will remain closed until a hearing is held before an administrative law judge."

Editor's note: The story has been edited to clarify that the child who died was four months old. 


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