A 17-month-old girl has died after she was brutally assaulted at a motel in Virginia, police have said.
The toddler’s mother, Aija Brown, said her daughter, Nariah Ivy Brown, was sexually assaulted in Richmond on May 8 by a man she trusted and died from her injuries two days later.
Brown said she had left her daughter in the Colony House Motor Lodge motel while giving a relative a lift, with the man who she said she had known since fourth grade and who had been her boyfriend for a year.
“I said, ‘baby, I love you’…and I’m going to let you go with him… and I’ll be right back,” Brown said, according to NBC12.
The little girl’s aunt says the girl’s mother, Aija Brown, had left her with someone she knew and trusted in their motel room. She returned to find her baby had been horrifically assaulted. She rushed Nariah to the hospital, where she later died. https://t.co/OXlbgpq7FP
— WTVG 13abc (@13abc) May 15, 2019
But when she returned to their room, she found her daughter injured.
Brown immediately rushed her daughter to a local hospital, where doctors found she had suffered multiple severe injuries, including fractured ribs and punctured lungs.
“I was in panic mode, disgusted, in total shock… that anything happened to her,” Brown said.
“I was giving my baby CPR in the back seat,” Brown told WTVR. “Because I thought she wasn’t breathing.”
Nariah was unable to recover from her injuries and passed away at the VCU Medical Center on Friday after she was hospitalized for two days.
Nariah Brown was just 17 months old. https://t.co/4eQSfFEXLo
— Metro (@MetroUK) May 15, 2019
The devastated mother has since urged parents to be extremely careful in looking after their children.
“I love my daughter…but I just want parents, anybody…keep your children close,” she said.
“I was gonna’ always do anything to protect her,” Brown added. “She was loving. She would go up to strangers, hug them, and smile.”
Aija Brown pledged to her baby girl that she would never leave her side. https://t.co/MuqQBlETtU
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) May 14, 2019
On May 14, a vigil was held for the toddler at Forest Hill Park, where friends and family members released balloons into the sky.
“Just heartbreaking. May we all find peace in our hearts knowing she is with our King. In absolute peace and infinite glory,” family members posted on social media along with footage of the vigil.
— Paris2015 (MATRICULE 2709) (@paris_2015) May 16, 2019
Her family has set up a fundraiser titled “Nariah Troopers,” to help pay expenses for her funeral.
“Nariah was an outgoing, happy and loving baby, who life was snatched away from a mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and a host of family who loved her deeply,” the GoFundMe page reads.
“She had plenty of different loving personalities and loved to dance. She suffered tremendous amount of injuries that called her home to be with the Lord.
“MCV did everything in their power to try and save her. Nariah Ivy Brown will be truly missed. Please continue to keep her family in your prayers during this incredibly tragic time.”
At the time of writing, the family have raised more than $6,600 toward funeral costs.
— Alissa Smith (@byalissasmith) May 15, 2019
Messages of support for the family have flooded in from all over the world.
“This story breaks my heart. It’s hard to believe someone could be so heinous. My prayers are with the family and sweet Nariah,” one person wrote.
Another commented, “I am in tears reading about what happened to this baby. Praying for the Mother and family of this precious soul.”
Richmond police confirmed they have taken a person of interest into custody, but have not yet announced charges.