A grandmother has been accused of stabbing her toddler granddaughter and baking the child inside an oven.
Carolyn Jones, 48, was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday in the death of Royalty Marie Floyd in her home in Shaw, Mississippi, Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams said.
Police were called to the home at about 7pm on Monday after a relative arrived home and found the 20-month-old girl in the oven. She was dead at the scene. Police tape still surrounded part of the house Tuesday morning, while a stroller, a high chair, and a trash barrel of toys including a scooter sat near the curb in front of the house. Williams said those toys had belonged to the child.
Sheriff's officials said Floyd lived with Jones while Floyd's mother lived elsewhere.
"Royalty was so beautiful & I loved her more than anything in the world," the toddler's mother Veronica Jones wrote on a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her funeral. "My daughter was stabbed and baked in the oven by her grandmother."
The sheriff said Carolyn Jones' brother found the body on Monday night and called police in Shaw, a town of about 2,000 people in the Mississippi Delta, approximately 100 miles northwest of Jackson.
"When deputies arrived on the scene, it was confirmed that a homicide had taken place inside the home," Williams said at a press conference broadcast by WREG.
Spokesman Warren Strain at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety said investigators are still probing for the cause of the girl's death, as well as when exactly the girl died and whether that was before she was placed in the oven. The child's body has been sent to the state Crime Lab in Pearl for an autopsy, though Williams said autopsy results were not yet complete on Tuesday.
"The official cause (of death) is still under investigation but authorities have reason to believe that the child was stabbed and burned. The child was found inside of the oven in the residence," Williams said.
Jones made an initial appearance Tuesday evening before a judge, who set bail at $500,000. Jones remained jailed and it wasn't immediately clear if she had a lawyer who could speak for her. Williams said that he wasn't yet certain whether mental illness was a factor in the case. He said that what deputies found at the scene was extremely disturbing.
"I have been in law enforcement a long time and one of the hardest things that I have experienced is when you see a child as a victim. It's trying for us to come upon a scene and see a victim such as this," he said.
The sheriff promised to release more information to the public as it became available and vowed a thorough investigation.
"Dark days such as these can only be brightened when justice is served. I've been doing law enforcement for 25 or 26 years now. This is one of the most horrible things I've seen in doing law enforcement. The hardest part … is to see a child victim," Williams said in an interview.
It is not the first death of a child inside an oven in the area. In 2012, a woman in Greenville, about 20 miles from Shaw, pleaded guilty to cooking her 3-year-old son to death in an oven. Terri Robinson, now 32, was sentenced to life in prison for the oven murder of Tristan Robinson.
Washington County Coroner Methel Johnson said an autopsy found Robinson died from heat injuries sustained in the electric oven.
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