Crime Headline — 14 September 2012 — by Albert J. Ciego
Post-mortem: Kaylee Burgess, 2, was suffocated to death

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 13, 2012

Kaylee Burgess, 2, of Quilters Estate in Ladyville, who police say was suffocated to death, was laid to rest on Sunday, September 9, at the Ladyville Village Cemetery after funeral services at the Ladyville Evangelical Church.

The baby was found dead in a chlorine bucket with some water in it at the home of her mother, Deidra Pratt, in the Japan area of Ladyville on Thursday, September 6, around 12:30 a.m., about six hours after she was reported missing, around 6:00 p.m., the previous evening, Wednesday.

Relatives who saw the baby, however, said that one side of her face was swollen and that her private parts were severely enlarged, which suggests, they believe, that she had been sexually violated.

On Friday, September 7, a post-mortem was conducted by Dr. Mario Estradabran, who certified the cause of death as suffocation.

He noted fingerprints and bruises around the baby’s neck, a “busted” mouth, and the left portion of her jaw was swollen. The post-mortem was conducted one day after the toddler was found in the bucket, initially giving the appearance of drowning. The doctor ruled out drowning, however, and indicated that water was not in her lungs. Police said they are now investigating the death of the baby as murder.

After the post-mortem results were obtained on Friday, September 7, police detained some members of the baby’s family, but no one has yet been charged in connection with her death.

On Tuesday night, September 4, the house of Kevin Burgess, the father of the toddler, was burned down, and arson was the stated cause. His family, who were at home that night, said that they saw the toddler’s mother Deidra Pratt enter the house in which she and her three children, including Kaylee, and Kevin, her ex-boyfriend, had lived for around 5 years. The family said that shortly after she left, the house erupted in flames.

The family said that the loss to them was around $75,000.

Burgess went to the police and made a formal report, and Pratt was picked up, but so far she has not been charged for the suspected arson.

Burgess, however, has been charged with damage to property belonging to Pratt’s mother. He was taken to court, where he was released on bail of $1,000. Pratt’s mother said that he went to their house after his house was burned, and damaged their louvers.

For her part, Deidra Pratt told police that she had left the child in the care of her sister, 19, while she was being detained at the Ladyville Police Station for the burning of her ex-boyfriend’s house. She said that around 7:00 that Wednesday evening, her sister called her mother and told her that the baby was missing, but they didn’t really think anything of it at the time, believing, they said, that she was with her father.

In an interview with the media Pratt said that her mother started do some extensive searches, going to other family members’ houses looking for the baby, but to no avail. Her mother came home, and decided to just look around the yard, because it is big, she said. Her mother then reportedly went through the kitchen to the back door, where she saw one of the buckets – one with a blue covering – and it is in there she saw the baby in a leaning position. She grabbed the baby and started screaming, her uncle told the media. The child was already dead.

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