When a South Carolina father left his toddler in the care of his live-in girlfriend in December 2017, it turned out to be a decision that cost the little girl her life.

According to the South Carolina Herald, 25-year-old Kayla Cook was left in charge of watching her boyfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Lillian Schroeder, while he was away at work on December 18.

But it wasn’t long until police were called to their Lancaster County home.

Michelle Bigham/Facebook

Cook claimed that she put Lillian in the bathtub to wash up, only to find her “unresponsive but looking around and breathing” when she came to check on her, according to police.

The woman said she then alerted her neighbor that the toddler was “not acting right” and asked them to contact authorities, the Herald reports.

When paramedics arrived, the child was lying in the living room and had no pulse, according to the Shelby Star. Lillian was taken to a nearby local hospital where she soon died.

And Cook’s story didn’t seem to add up for police.

Lancaster Police Department

The 3-year-old was found with “numerous bruises” on different parts of her body and an autopsy revealed that she actually died from blunt force trauma to her head.

Police said that the child “died within minutes of this head injury.”

According to the Shelby Star, Lancaster Police Chief Scott Grant said the case has been difficult for both family members and the community:

“This tragic incident has taken a heavy toll on the families involved. It has touched a lot of people including the community, first responders, officers and investigators involved as well.”

Lillian’s mother, Michelle Bigham, shared a meme in a Facebook post about moving on from emotional difficulties and not holding onto to “pent up anger, hurt, sadness, and holding grudges.”

Bigham regularly posts about missing her little girl. The father has yet to publicly comment on the loss.

The Shelby Star reports that police searched for Cook for 10 days. On December 29, Cook was arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse. She was held without bond. For now, Cook’s motive remains unclear.

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