A young woman from Rockcastle, Kentucky was arrested in Bell County, KY. over this weekend in connection to the horrific death of her 17-month old child, who died from injuries following a sexual assault case.
The Middlesboro Police Department reported Erica L. Lawson, 21, of Mount Vernon, KY., was arrested late Sunday night, July 30, in connection to the death of her 17 month old daughter. The toddler died on Sunday following a sexual assault case.
According to police officials, the horrifying incident started when the child was brought to the Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital Friday night after sustaining severe injuries.
The child was flown to Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee due to the extensive severity of her injuries. Police say the medical staff tried to stabilize the baby girl, but the child did not survive; as the toddler passed away Sunday night.
Middlesboro Police opened an investigation following the child’s death and they interviewed Erica Lawson concerning the death of her baby daughter, and who was responsible for the incident that caused the death of the little girl.
Erica Lawson was arrested by Middlesboro police and she has been charged with the following:
- MANSLAUGHTER 2ND DEGREE;
- FAILURE TO REPORT CHILD DEPEND NEGLECT/ ABUSE 1ST OFFENSE;
- CRIMINAL ABUSE 1ST DEGREE CHILD UNDER 12 YEARS OF AGE;
- WANTON ENDANGERMENT-1ST DEGREE.
Erica Lawson was transported to and was lodged in the Bell County Detention Center in Middlesboro. She was given by a judge Monday morning to be held on a $1,000,000 (one million dollars) bond; She was transported to, and is now being held at Clay County Detention Center.
Law enforcement officials in Bell County stated that they are expecting to make at least one or more arrests soon in the child rape death case.
Rev. Steven Temple said that he could not sleep after hearing the news and knew he needed to do something for the family, so he worked with community members to set up this vigil.
Baby Elena’s father,Trey Hembree, was there with some of his family members who were in attendance and were able to see all of the love and support the community had to offer them.
“She was daddy’s girl for sure. I was her safe place. She was a daddy’s girl.” Trey Hembree stated to Hazard, KY television news station WYMT.
“If we could get that mindset that if we see something, let’s say something,” said Reverend Steven Temple. “They may get aggravated at us speaking, they may get aggravated at us calling, bugging them, emailing them, whatever we’ve got to do. As long as we can get them to investigate, check it out, look it up. If it’s nothing then it’s nothing, but it’s better to be safe than it is to be in this situation that we find this family in tonight.”
Reverend Temple says that he hopes this tragedy can be a catalyst in helping the community understand its role in protecting the children of the community.
District Social Worker for Middlesboro and Pineville and children’s advocate, Leah Jones, says that if someone believes that a child is being abused they need to report it to DCBS immediately so that it can be investigated.
Those who attended the candlelight vigil had the opportunity to speak following planned speeches from Pastor Steven Temple, Pastor David Rice, Middlesboro Mayor Boone Bowling, and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Fugate, who was there and spoke to the crowd and also the family of baby Elena, about how she will do everything she can to get justice for baby Elena.