Mother charged in death of adopted daughter
SPRING HILL (AP) — A Tennessee woman who had adopted a baby from China nearly a year ago surrendered to authorities Tuesday on charges she had killed the 20-month-old girl.
Jennifer Alvey, 34, was indicted Monday by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect and reckless homicide in the death of Emma Alvey.
In lieu of $250,000 bond, Alvey was being held in jail in Williamson County, a suburban county south of Nashville.
District Attorney General Ron Davis refused to comment on the details of the case Tuesday, but he said Alvey had been cooperative since her arrest.
“Any time there’s a case where a child has died under suspicious circumstances, there’s going to be an investigation,” Davis said.
Spring Hill police detective Sgt. Steve Cretin told The Tennessean newspaper that on Oct. 19, “the mother held the baby and shook the baby back and forth, striking the baby’s head on a coffee table in their living room.
“There are no indications that the father was involved in any way, or had any idea that this would happen,” he said “And we’ve had no prior reports of any abuse at this home.”
There are no other children in the household.
The Tennessean reported that police said Alvey took her daughter to the home of neighbors, Charlie and Nan Fink, who called police.
The child suffered a skull fracture and was taken to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, where she died Oct. 24.
An autopsy by the Davidson County medical examiner’s office is not yet complete.
“After Emma died, Jennifer kind of stayed in the house all the time,” Nan Fink told The Tennessean.
“But she brought a pie, a pumpkin pie, over here not long ago and said she was under investigation and didn’t know what would happen to her.”
Police said they did not know where in China the adoption originated, but they said Bethany Christian Services in Nashville handled the adoption.
Following Emma’s death, condolences were sent from around the world to Bethany Christian Services’ Web site, through which the couple adopted the child and posted a detailed description of the process that ended eight months ago when they returned to the United States with Emma.
The family’s profile is no longer on the Web site.
Tammy Delle, director of the Nashville office of Bethany Christian Services, said she could not discuss the adoption, citing privacy policies.
Delle said families wishing to adopt go through extensive screening processes that include background checks through local authorities, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. Families’ health and financial histories are also checked.
“We also get references from friends, family and employers,” she said.
Cretin said this case was the first child murder case he could recall in the four years he’s been employed by the police department in Spring Hill.
“It’s been a long, drawnout investigation,” he said.
“It took a toll on everyone involved.”