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Dunwoody daycare owner charged with murder in 4-month-old's death, police say

According to the Dunwoody Police Department, 45-year-old Amanda Harris Hickey was arrested Friday, Feb. 5.

DUNWOODY, Ga. — A Dunwoody daycare owner has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 4-month-old baby.

According to the Dunwoody Police Department, 45-year-old Amanda Harris Hickey was arrested Friday, Feb. 5. 

Police said that on the previous Wednesday, Feb. 3, their officers along with the DeKalb County Fire Department were called to Hickey's home on Leisure Lane, where she provides daycare for six infants and toddlers under the name of Little Lovey daycare. A baby in Hickey's care was 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. 

Dunwoody Police charged Hickey, who they said was the owner of the daycare, with felony murder and cruelty to children.

DECAL, DFCS, and the Dunwoody Police Department are now working together in the case, described as an open investigation. Details about how the infant died, and the identities of the baby and parents, have not been released, and police and prosecutors are not yet ready to disclose what possible evidence they may have to support the charges against Hickey.

State records going back more than four years show no violations at the daycare, other than issues such as the state needing a background check on a 17 year old who was helping at the daycare, which was resolved. 

Neighbors are stunned.

"I saw them putting handcuffs on her," said Mikayla Helland on Friday. "I know she's a good woman, she's a kind woman. That's not something like her to do that."

Helland said she also saw police carrying brown bags containing possible evidence out of Hickey's home and placing the bags into a vehicle.

A couple, walking their newborn in a stroller past Hickey's home Friday evening, said they had just found out recently that there was an opening in the daycare and they were excited when they were able to sign up to take their baby there, beginning in March. 

They said they checked Hickey's references and found them to be impeccable, and that other parents in the neighborhood who had placed their children in Hickey's care over the years had nothing but praise for her.

Hickey includes, on her Facebook page, glowing reviews from parents about the care she provides. 

State records indicate that Hickey had installed surveillance cameras inside the daycare.

She may have a first court appearance at the jail this weekend.

DECAL said that parents who were impacted by this incident and are looking for alternative childcare can find resources by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS or visiting QualityRated.org.

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office
Amanda Harris Hickey