Whitman mother arrested in connection to 2-year-old’s death

Whitman mother arrested in connection to 2-year-old's death

BROCKTON, Mass. — A woman has been arrested in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter, who was found bruised and unresponsive on a couch on December 28. Lyric Farrell, 2, was pulled from life support a few days later.

On Thursday, Lyric’s mother, Shaniqua Leonard, 29, was arrested in Dorchester and charged with reckless endangerment of a child in connection to the death, the Plymouth County district attorney’s office announced.

Police found the 2-year-old after a 911 call to a home on Washingon Street in Whitman. According to the police report, Lyric suffered a brain hemorrhage from a non-accidental traumatic head injury. Investigators also found fresh scratches to her face, neck, torso and back. Leonard told police Lyric hadn’t been eating, and that she had been scratching herself and banging her head.

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In a search of Leonard’s phone, police say other videos in the days before Lyric’s death show the toddler unable to hold her own head up, move her legs, or keep her eyes open and focused.

Investigators concluded Lyric was in medical distress and her mother did not get her timely medical attention, which led to her death. Leonard pleaded not guilty at her Thursday arraignment in Brockton District Court and was ordered held until a Friday bail hearing.

Leonard told police she tried CPR, claiming, according to court documents, “her child had hit her head earlier in the night…had not been eating, was scratching herself and banging her head.”

Chris Farrell, Lyric’s father, told Boston 25 News his daughter had been in DCF custody due to her mother’s troubles with the law. She was recently returned to her mother’s care, instead of Farrell’s.

“I was so sad, it was heartbreaking," Farrell said about DCF’s decision to return his daughter to her mother’s custody. "It was like me against the world, me against DCF, me against the criminal system.”

When asked if he had any message for DCF in light of Leonard’s arrest Thursday, Farrell was unsure of what to say.

“I’ve been talking for three and a half years, I don’t know what to say,” he said. "It’s too late now, it’s over, there’s nothing I can do. I have to wake up and live with this every single day. That’s it.”

Farrell says he spoke with DCF on Thursday after repeatedly making calls to them. He said it was the first time he had spoken with them since Lyrics’ death.

“I asked DCF how they felt about the situation, [and] what made them feel like [Leonard] was more fit [to have custody of Lyric,]” he said. "I asked them how come they felt like [Leonard] deserved [Lyric] more.”

Just days before her child’s death, Lyric’s mother was found guilty of domestic assault charges related to a domestic assault case involving Farrell. Court records show Lyric’s mother was charged with assaulting Christopher Farrell with a glass bottle and an aluminum baseball bat for an incident in Boston in September.

Lyric’s mother was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to wear a GPS tracking device in mid-December. Other charges had been filed against her, but were ultimately dropped.

At the time of his child’s death, Chris Farrell was not living with Lyric’s mother and says he was not in the house when Lyric was found dead. When he heard that Leonard had been charged with reckless endangerment of a child, Farrell was surprised.

“What!? What!? Oh, no, no, no, that’s injustice, no way,” he said. "That’s supposed to be premeditated murder […] she went through all of this to get her kids back just to do this in four weeks. And I was giving [DCF] letters saying that she was going to do something like this. She was saying it.”

Farrell added that he had been emailing DCF messages for multiple months that he claimed Leonard had been sending to him about killing Lyric.

“I showed [DCF] text messages of her saying she was going [to] kill the kids and then kill herself after," he said. “I showed them through email so it can’t go anywhere. She wrote a suicide letter.”

A DCF spokesperson also gave the following statement to Boston 25 News last week:

The Department of Children and Families continues to investigate this tragic situation in collaboration with law enforcement. All of the children in the home are currently in DCF custody.

Lyric’s other siblings have been removed from the home and are currently in DCF custody.