Woman charged with abuse of a minor after child found with chemical burns

Jessica Chandler

A Richmond woman is facing multiple charges after a toddler was found in her care with multiple and extensive chemical burns.

Jessica Chandler, 38, Richmond, was arrested on Feb. 12 and charged with first-degree assault (domestic violence), first-degree criminal abuse of a child 12 or under, and tampering with physical evidence.

According to a citation, an officer was dispatched in reference to a welfare check on a three-year-old child.

While conducting the welfare check, the officer found the toddler in a back bedroom of the residence who had severe second and third-degree burns across their face and back.

Police reports indicate the officer also noted the toddler had a deep laceration on their foot, which appeared to be infected.

After their initial investigation, the officers contacted the Criminal Investigations Division who also responded to the scene.

Investigators were told the three-year-old victim’s mother, Chandler, told officers initially the toddler's burns were accidental — claiming the child had overturned a bucket of chemicals on themselves.

However, Chandler switched her story later and told officers the three-year-old victim received the burns from lying on the kitchen floor after she had mopped. Chandler allegedly said she had cleaned the floors with bleach and lye and the floors were still wet when the child lwas on them.

The citation states the three-year-old victim was removed from the scene and rushed to the University of Kentucky to treat their injuries, which included third-degree burns across their face and back, which will require extensive care and procedures.

Department for Community Based Service (DCBS) workers told investigators they had responded to the location a day earlier after also receiving a referral for a welfare check on a child.

An investigation revealed Chandler allegedly tried to fool DCBS workers and hid her injured child — presenting the child’s twin sibling instead. Chandler reportedly said she was afraid of losing custody of her child, so she concealed her injured child from the workers.

According to the citation, while conducting the investigation, the child’s 12-year-old sibling came forward and told law enforcement Chandler was abusing them.

The 12-year-old victim allegedly disclosed Chandler forced them to eat the three-year-old victim’s vomit in the past.

Chandler had also placed the victim on top of a hot stove and forced them outside in the cold.

In addition to the physical abuse, the 12-year-old victim told investigators Chandler verbally abused the three-year-old victim by calling them “retarded” and saying no one loves them.

The 12-year-old victim also allegedly said they heard Chandler wish for the three-year-old victim's death.

The citation states, Chandler was transported to the Madison County Detention Center, where she allegedly told investigators during questioning she poured bleach and ammonia onto the kitchen floor.

Later that evening, she said she was informed the three-year-old victim had urinated on themselves in their bed.

Chandler said she told the three-year-old child to lay in the kitchen while she cleaned the urine.

An officer got a search warrant for Chandler’s residence, and during the search, several chemicals and items of an “evidentiary nature” were found.

After the search, the officer spoke again with Chandler who allegedly admitted to placing bleach and ammonia on her kitchen floor and made the child lay in it. She also allegedly admitted to withholding care from the three-year-old victim for nearly two days.

She admitted to “blacking out” due to her intoxication level at the time and said she could not remember much from the night.

Chandler was arrested and taken to the Madison County Detention Center where she remained on Wednesday afternoon.

Other arrests include:

  • Leigh Labanowich, 52, Lexington, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance (189A.010(1D0)/First aggravated circumstance), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), no operators/moped license.
  • Jennifer Underwood, 33, Berea, fourth-degree assault (domestic violence with a minor injury).
  • Amanda Brewer, 37, Richmond, trafficking in a controlled substance (heroin/first offense), rear license not illuminated, instructional permit violations, failure to notify address change to the department of transportation.
  • Robert Sturgill, 39, Berea, trafficking in a controlled substance (heroin/first offense).
  • Debora Wren, 54, Berea, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (heroin/first offense), buying or possession of drug paraphernalia, public intoxication with a controlled substance (excludes alcohol).
  • Kristine Smith, 46, Richmond, fourth-degree assault (no visible injury).
  • Demetryck Davis, 22, Nicholasville, second-degree burglary, menacing.
  • Erica Deakins, 31, Richmond, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (heroin/first offense), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine/first offense).
  • Jeffrey Estes, 36, Richmond, second-degree assault (domestic violence/attempt).

The Register collects and publishes police reports as a public service to its readers. The reports often contain allegations against individuals and do not mean the individuals committed a crime. All people named in connection with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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