Mother: Child scared by day care worker has night terrors


(NewsNation) — The mother of a child who was among those frightened by a day care worker in Mississippi says her daughter now has night terrors after being traumatized by the incident.

Jessie Reeves’ 3-year-old daughter was at Lil’ Blessings in Hamilton, Mississippi, on the day of the encounter, when a worker put on a Halloween mask and walked around scaring kids. Video of the incident went viral and showed the worker sometimes getting inches away from children’s faces as other employees stood by and watched, some of them laughing.

“I was in disbelief (that it could have happened) at first because these are people I supposedly knew,” Reeves said Thursday on “Banfield.” “One (of the employees) I considered a friend, and now it’s hard to consider anybody anything anymore.”

The video sparked outrage in the local community and the owner confirmed four employees were fired. Criminal charges have been filed against five people, including felony child abuse for four of them. The fifth has been charged with failure to report abuse and simple assault, both misdemeanors, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Several of the families say the event has has taken a major psychological toll on their children.

“The mask is virtually haunting our house,” Reeves said. “(My daughter) wakes up talking about it. It’s traumatizing. Kids are resilient, and I know she’ll bounce back at some point, but when?”

The woman who recorded the video, Jennifer Newman, posted on Facebook that she did it to get proof of what was happening at the day care. She said this wasn’t the first time the other employees wore masks to scare the children.

“The kids were terrified but I knew if I told the owner, it would be a slap on the wrist for them as I’ve complained about other things in the past and nothing ever got done,” Newman said in the post. “So, when I heard she was going to do it again, I recorded to get the proof and then the video was sent to parents to show them how their child was being treated.”

Newman is one of the four who has been charged with felony child abuse. Sierra McCandless, Oci-Anna Kilburn and Shyenne Shelton are the other three. Traci Hutson was charged with the misdemeanors.

In an apology video, McCandless said she didn’t go to work that day “with intentions to literally traumatize those children.”

“I am truly sorry to the whole Hamilton community,” McCandless said.

Reeves said the families who were impacted plan to file a civil lawsuit against the day care.

During a court appearance Thursday, bond was set for McCandless and Kilburn at $20,000 each and $15,000 for Newman and Shelton each, WTVA reported.

The case is ongoing and evidence will be presented to a grand jury to determine if there’s enough evidence for an indictment, the sheriff’s office said.

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