Dayton 18-year-old charged in connection with death of toddler

August 15, 2012 3:04:15 PM PDT
A Liberty County teenager is in custody, accused in the death of a toddler.

On Tuesday sheriff's investigators say 18-month-old Harlee Ann Renee Dowdy was the victim of a nightmare. She died after being in the care of her uncle, Jack Hollis, 18, who is charged with injury to a child. What happened while he was watching Harlee is under investigation, but relatives say Hollis is a mentally disabled teenager.

According to the 911 call, Harlee was having trouble breathing. She died later at an area hospital.

"It's my understanding that the child was still alive at the time," said Captain Rex Evans with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office.

Relatives who are too upset to talk on camera tell Eyewitness News that little Harlee was not supposed to be with her uncle but was supposed to have been watched by her grandparents Darryl and Rebecca Dowdy, Hollis' parents. They would not answer any of our questions.

In addition to baby Harlee, the family tells us the grandparents also left a three-year-old girl with Hollis, but that child was unharmed. Detectives won't say who called 911 or whether Hollis gave any explanation for what happened. Neighbors are in shock.

"You should know who you leave your children with and what kind of person they are," said neighbor Kim Friegi. "You just don't leave them with anyone."

Hollis's parents say the teen is developmentally delayed, and innocent. He is currently charged with injury to a child, but that could be upgraded since Harlee has died.

An autopsy will be performed on the toddler to determine her exact cause of death.

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