A 29-year-old former police officer admitted she was having sex with her boss while her young daughter died in her patrol car.
Cassie Barker, once an officer with the Long Beach Police Department in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Monday (local time) in the 2016 death of her three-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, from heat exposure, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.
Barker left her daughter in her parked patrol car outside the home of her then-boss Clark Ladner while the two had sex and slept over a period of four hours on September 30, 2016.
Although the car’s air conditioner was running, it was not blowing cold air.
Barker and Ladner were immediately fired, but Ladner was not charged as he told officers he was not aware that Cheyenne was in the car, Associated Press reported.
Cheyenne, who was later described by former Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell as a “very happy, joyful little girl” whom officers would occasionally take turns pushing in a stroller, had a body temperature of almost 42C when she was found.
“Every time I close my eyes, I picture her suffering and then I picture her laying in this coffin,” the girl’s father, Ryan Hyer, said, according to Associated Press.
“I still see her smiling and laughing in my head, and I would assume that smile and laughter turned to pain and suffering in that instance.
“It’s an image I don’t want to have, but it’s one I can’t get rid of.”
Barker had previously left Cheyenne in the car in 2015 outside a Gulfport store while she went inside, the Los Angeles Times reported.
After a pedestrian called the police, Barker went on unpaid leave and welfare workers took temporary custody of the girl. Mr Hyer said he was never told about that incident.
Mr Hyer is suing the Long Beach Police Department and Mississippi Child Protection Services.
An attorney for Ryan did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
A month after his daughter’s death in 2016, Ryan established a GoFundMe page to pay for her burial.
“She was a wonderful sweet beautiful girl full of life and excitement and cannot believe she’s gone,” the father wrote.
“She did not deserve this. Please help me give her the best and most importantly proper burial that she deserves so she can be at peace and hopefully give me peace.”
Barker was jailed on Monday at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and her sentencing was set for April 1.
The Hancock County Circuit Court Clerk did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s information request.
Barker could receive a 20-year prison sentence.