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Posted: July 12, 2017

Police: 4-year-old girl dies wrapped in blankets, duct taped to bed


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Police: 4-year-old girl dies wrapped in blankets, duct taped to bed
Matthew Longenecker, left, and Kelly Lynn Ballinger

By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

KALAMAZOO, Mich.  —

A Michigan woman and her boyfriend have been charged with killing the woman’s 4-year-old daughter, who police said was found unresponsive Sunday morning after being wrapped in blankets and duct taped into her bed overnight.

Kalamazoo police officials said officers were called shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday to a home where they found the little girl, Desaray Thompson, not breathing. The first responding officer started CPR immediately.

“It was apparent to officers the child had suffered some physical trauma,” police said in a news release. “Officers performed CPR on the child for over 50 minutes, but were not able to revive the child.”

The girl’s mother, Kelly Lynn Ballinger, 33, and Ballinger’s boyfriend, Matthew Longenecker, 34, were taken into custody and charged with murder and first-degree child abuse, jail records showed

Two other children, ages 8 years and 2 months, were placed with Child Protective Services, according to MLive.

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Detective Sheila Goodell of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety testified in court Tuesday that investigators learned that Desaray had been restrained with blankets and duct tape each night for about two weeks before she died. Goodell’s testimony, recorded by MLive during Ballinger and Longenecker’s probable cause hearing, indicated that the girl’s face was sometimes covered with blankets or clothing, as well. 

When Ballinger found the girl unresponsive Sunday morning, her head was covered, Goodell testified. The girl also had multiple bruises and cuts on her body at the time of her death, which was ruled a homicide. 

The detective said that Ballinger and Longenecker admitted to restraining Desaray at night. The girl could not get out of bed or otherwise move until she was removed each morning. 

Text messages on their phones corroborated the evidence that investigators uncovered, Goodell said. 

Desaray’s great-grandmother, Virginia Davis, told MLive that she babysat the girl for most of her first year of life while Ballinger worked. She said the family is “devastated” by Desaray’s death. 

“She was a darling little girl,” Davis said. 

Both Ballinger and Longenecker are being held without bail in the Kalamazoo County jail.


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