Nanny accused of repeatedly suffocating infant in her care

Tirza Magana, 48, is charged with endangering a child

August 17, 2012 4:35:49 AM PDT
A "nanny cam" may have saved the life of a child who was allegedly abused at the hands of the woman hired to care for her. Investigators say video shows that nanny suffocating and throwing the infant on several occasions.

Tirza Magana, 48, is behind bars on a $10,000 bond, charged with endangering a child. She is the nanny a couple of parents in Midtown claim they caught on hidden camera abusing their baby.

Eyewitness News has learned Magana was in the family's home for five months, but what the parents say they watched after setting up a nanny cam for one day was enough to fire that woman and get the police involved.

Court documents say the nanny cam video shows Magana placing her hands over their child's nose and mouth.

"She places both hands over the complainants nose and mouth and applies force" and "causing the baby to flail about, struggling to breathe."

Police say another video shows Magana "holding the baby up by her head... as the child's dangling body made jerking movements."

Workers at Spy Emporium in Midtown told us they've heard tales like this before. They say a large portion of their hidden camera business comes from curious parents who want to keep an eye on their nannies through a wide-range of discreet devices.

"No, no I'm not surprised at all," said Angel Araiza with Spy Emporium. "DVD players, alarm clocks, radios, iPod dock stations, lamps, even tissue boxes."

Police say the couple who hired Magana set up their surveillance cameras back in May after noticing their 4-month-old daughter acting strange and lethargic.

No one answered when we showed up to Magana's listed address on the north side. Police say they interviewed Magana, who identified herself in the surveillance videos and reportedly admitted suffocating the baby multiple times each day over the course of a month. They say Magana also acknowledged that her actions could have killed the baby.

"Child care licensing does not regulate nannies. We do not regulate if someone comes into your home," said Gwen Carter with Child Protective Services.

She says parents need to be very cautious when hiring someone to care for their kids.

"When you decide to have a nanny or someone come into your home, you can do a criminal background check. Of course there are ways to do it online. However, you still need to be incredibly cautious because you may not know about that person's dealings with other agencies, including child care licensing or Child Protective Services," Carter said.

According to police, doctors told them the baby was at risk for suffocation and neck or spine injuries due to Magana's alleged actions.