SHELBY, NC (FOX 46) - A Shelby couple has been indicted on murder charges in the death of their 6-month-old baby girl, officials said.
Steven Dean and Morgan Conn were originally charged with child abuse, but those charges were upgraded when their daughter, Khloe, died.
According to the Cleveland County District Attorney's office, the grand jury indicted the couple on murder charges Monday.
Neighbors said they helped her with baby clothes and advice, even helping get baby Khloe dressed just two days before the incident. They didn’t suspect anything was going on but now want justice for Khloe.
Jenna Bullman lived next door to Conn and Deen. Although they had only lived next door for less than two weeks, Bullman knew them for a few months through her brother. She’d helped her new neighbors with baby clothes for their 6-month-old triplets and offered advice but never suspected abuse in the home.
On March 24, 2017 Deen knocked on Bullman’s door in a panic asking for help. “All I can think about is me breathing my breath into her body and hearing it and watching it go in and not knowing what had happened to her and then later finding out it makes you angry and confused and every emotion you can think of,” said Bullman.
Bullman, a C.N.A., grabbed her son and ran to her neighbor’s house where she found Khloe unconscious.
“She was laying on the couch lifeless. She was in a diaper, I didn’t see any physical marks or anything, I just felt for a heartbeat, felt the heartbeat and told the dad she’s alive but she’s not breathing call 911,” said Bullman.
She performed CPR until paramedics arrived. She then took the couples other eight children into a backroom of the trailer home and drove Deen to the hospital. Along the way she recalled praying with him and asking what happened.
“He told me that she was fussy and that he went and made her a bottle, brought it back and she turned away from the bottle and he picked her up and she went into a seizure and then went limp, so that’s all I knew at the moment.,” said Bullman.
According to Bullman, Conn was not home when the incident occurred. Conn met Bullman and Deen at the hospital where Bullman says doctor’s told them Khloe suffered a brain injury. Bullman only began to suspect abuse when the Department of Social Services arrived and began asking questions.
Bullman believes if Conn knew abuse was happening in the home and didn’t stop it then she’s just as guilty.
Bullman said, “Chloe didn’t deserve that. An innocent child does not deserve to be hurt in any way, I don’t care how much they cry, what they do, that’s the only way that they can express that something is wrong.” She advises anyone who feels they may hurt a child or another person to seek help.
Khloe was placed on life support at Levine Children’s hospital but was taken off Thursday, she passed away on Friday. Bullman, said she wishes the parents had come to her for help.
“Angry, complete anger, you know, to think you know somebody I mean that handles their children properly that you’ve never seen do anything out of the ordinary, that lives right next door and me having to do that to that baby you know that’s something that will never leave my mind," she said.
A GoFundMe page has been started to raise money for Khloe’s funeral. Bullman was not sure what happened to the five other children in the home but said Khloe’s twin brothers have been placed in the care of a good family.