COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has obtained a 911 call placed Sunday morning by the father of a Coweta County toddler who suffered trauma all over her body before she was pronounced dead.
Hours later, Aleigha Lee’s parents were charged in her death.
Daniel Lee, 28, called 911 around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The call was placed from his grandparents’ Senoia home, where the Lees lived with their six children, including 2-year-old Aleigha.
Lee told the operator he was on a corded phone while his wife Elizabeth was trying to revive the child in a nearby bathroom. His grandmother can be heard yelling for the operator to hurry and get EMS to the house.
Operator: She is breathing?
Daniel Lee: Yes, ma'am, we just woke up and she ... she ... she's not been … she's sick. Then I woke up and she's barely breathing. She's like really white.
Operator: Do we need to start CPR?
Daniel Lee: Um, maybe. I don't know what to do (crying). Please hurry.
Operator: What's she been sick with?
Daniel Lee: (Stutters) I'm not sure. I know she burned her leg and she, she had a cold.
But Aleigha had more than burned leg. In warrant records obtained by Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr, graphic details of the girl's trauma, as witnessed by investigators, outlined multiple injuries.
Burns from a hair tool and cigarettes were observed by investigators, and a Georgia Bureau of Investigtation autopsy reported blunt force trauma to the child’s stomach leading to liver lacerations, a swollen brain and signs of dehydration.
Elizabeth Lee told investigators she never took Aleigha to the doctor because she had no insurance, according to records.
Daniel Lee can be heard telling the 911 operator that he’d done everything he could to make sure the child was healing.
Operator: When was the last time you seen the baby?
Daniel Lee: She was in our room with us, and she, she, she was doing better. (Inaudible) Every day I've been buying everything that I'm supposed to buy.
By Sunday evening Lee has been charged with second-degree child cruelty for not reporting the child’s injuries, and investigators added felony murder and aggravated battery charges to Elizabeth’s record.
Both remain in the Coweta County jail without bond, while their five other children have been returned to state custody.
FAMILY TREATMENT COURT
A member of Aleigha's previous foster family gave Channel 2 permission to use Aleigha's photo in this story, as they made memorial arrangements.
The girl and her five other siblings were taken into state custody two years ago, amid their parents’ methamphetamine addiction.
A court administrator says the state returned the children in August 2017, clarifying earlier reports that the children were returned months ago.
Jennifer Barnett is an administrator in the Coweta County Family Court system, a program in which the Lees successfully completed in June of 2018. They were profiled in the local paper for turning around their lives after living in a van with the kids and being addicted to drugs.
While Judge Joseph Wyant declined to speak about the case, citing his ongoing involvement overseeing the siblings' open cases, Barnett offered this statement to Channel 2 Action News on Friday.
“The staff of the accountability court program are devastated by this horrific tragedy. We are saddened by the loss of little Aleigha, who along with her siblings, was returned to her parents’ home in August of 2017. In the underlying dependency case, there was never an issue of physical abuse of the children,” the statement read.
“Mr. and Mrs. Lee successfully completed every aspect of their case plan, which dissolved any dependency that existed at that time, thus eliminating any jurisdiction that the court had over the family.”
Cox Media Group