Three-year-old Ella Camp died from severe head trauma on Sept. 19, 2013, after spending two days in the hospital. Her mother’s boyfriend was arrested.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, David Zachary Gresham beat the toddler while Ella’s mother was not present. When Gresham brought Ella to the hospital, the young girl was unresponsive.
Video footage from a gas station shows Gresham striking Ella more than eight times while her mother was in the store earlier in the day. The district attorney told the court that the car shook under the weight of the blows. Ella was restrained in her car seat.
The mother claimed that she was unaware of the beating at the gas station. She saw her daughter crying in the car but dismissed it. Ella sustained another beating later in the day, and it was that one that ultimately ended her life.
Gresham pleaded guilty to murder, child cruelty, and assault last year. He was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole.Floyd County Sheriff’s Office
Ella’s mother, Kayla Medckie, 26, was charged with second-degree child cruelty after investigators determined she was aware of her boyfriend’s abusive behavior.
The Rome News-Tribune reported that Ella had warned her maternal grandmother, Joy Martin, that Gresham touched her inappropriately. Medckie confronted Gresham on Sept. 16, 2013, then chose to leave him alone in the car with Ella the following day.Floyd County Sheriff’s Office
In an interview with Dearly, Ella’s paternal grandmother, Michelle Camp, said the family was concerned about the young girl’s safety before she died:
“We begged [Kayla] to tell us what was going on when we saw the bruises. Kayla dismissed it. I called CPS but [Ella] was dead before the call was ever followed up on, which unfortunately is the case in many cases.”
Medckie pleaded guilty in May.Michelle Camp
On Aug. 7, she was sentenced to 10 years and will serve four in prison. In addition, the courts fined her $1,000 and requested her to perform community service. She’s currently pregnant and will give birth in prison.
Now that the legal proceedings are over, Ella’s family hopes to help protect other children from cases of abuse. Camp told Dearly that she’s currently conducting a donation campaign with the local Toys For Tots in Ella’s honor, but she hopes to start her own nonprofit:
“There were 205 cases of abuse here in our county the year Ella passed, 3 were fatalities. This past year, over 400. Our goal is to start a foundation or other non profit to help victims. For now, we are just taking it one step at a time.”
According to the National Children’s Alliance, an estimated 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. every year. In 2015 alone, 1,670 children died from child abuse and neglect.Michelle Camp
Camp continues to grieve for the loss of her grandchild. It hurts her to see her family, and especially her son, in pain.Michelle Camp
She told Dearly she misses all the milestones she previously celebrated with Ella:
“All the firsts. School, dances, graduations, her infectious laugh, snuggles, watching her and her older brother play, it’s endless. The pain my children feel that I can’t fix, especially my son, Ella’s dad.”
She hopes that people can learn from her family tragedy and cautions other parents to listen to their children, especially if their health and safety is at risk:
“LISTEN to your children, and boyfriends aren’t always the best babysitters.”
She added: “Actions will always speak louder than words.”