-- When Her Girl Acted Weirdly Mom Planted a Camera to Find Out Why. What She Discovered Made Her Cry

 Chris and Whitney Matney are two loving parents who adore their baby girl. They always do everything in their power to make her happy, so they became worried when their daughter started behaving strangely. At one point, she stopped being a sweet and happy little girl and they couldn’t figure out what the cause of this was. So, Whitney took it upon herself to set up a hidden camera in her home. When the parents looked at the footage from this camera, they were shocked by what they saw.

A Baby Girl

A couple from Springdale, Arkansas became parents in 2011 when Whitney gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Raylee. The new parents were overcome with joy and happiness when they brought Raylee home and started their new life.

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After some time had passed and Raylee wasn’t a newborn baby anymore, Whitney decided to return to law school. This working mom, just like any other, found it difficult to be apart from her child and wanted to find the best caregiver who could be entrusted with Raylee’s care. What should have been a normal transition soon turned into a nightmare.

Finding The Perfect Nanny

Whitney was extremely diligent about her search for the perfect nanny. She took all the precautions to make sure her daughter would be left in the best possible hands. She thought the safest bet would be appealing to her friends, so she went to Facebook and posted an ad looking for a nanny.

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One of Whitney’s former high school classmates, Melissa Medema, reached out to the mom and said she was interested in the position. Since Melissa was someone Whitney already personally knew, this gave her the upper hand.

Is There Such As Thing As 'Safe Enough'?

You can never be completely sure that you’ve hired the right nanny. Even though some people make great first impressions, it’s later revealed that they aren’t good at their jobs. Not even glowing recommendations can guarantee someone is safe and competent.

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 “You really can’t do too much to confirm that you’re hiring the right person,” said in-home childcare expert Susan Tokayer for ABC news. “You need to do a diligent background check and digital digging.”

Horrible Nannies

You can find numerous stories about nightmare nannies. Some seduce the fathers of the children they’re taking care of, some steal, and some even abuse or even murder their charges. Every now and then, one such nanny appears on the news.

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However, people never think that that sort of thing could happen to them and their family. These stories are so inhumane that it seems impossible someone could actually commit such deeds. Still, Whitney wondered if she hired the right person.

An Arranged Meeting

Whitney wanted to make sure she was leaving her daughter in good hands. She looked through Melissa’s profile on Facebook and found nothing strange. She also called Melissa’s reference, and the person gave Melissa a glowing recommendation. All that was left to do was arrange a meeting.

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When Melissa showed up to Whitney’s house and met little Raylee, Whitney was delighted to see the two of them got along right away. Thinking there was nothing to worry about and that she had find the right person, Whitney hired Melissa on the spot.

Leaving The Child

After Whitney had spent many months at home, taking care of her baby, she was excited to go back to school and pursue her dream. Even though she was eager to get back into the world, she still felt anxious about leaving her daughter alone for the very first time.

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She found solace in the thought that she had found a good and competent nanny. When Melissa came to the Marneys’ house for her first workday, the two parents both went their respective ways, leaving their little girl in what they thought were trustworthy hands.

Strange Behavior

When the parents returned home after a long day, everything seemed to be in order. Melissa had taken care of Raylee, and the girl seemed happy and healthy. At least, that was their first impression.

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Later that same evening, the two parents noticed their daughter was acting very strange. When Whitney went into Raylee’s room, the little girl started screaming and crying. It seemed as if she was terrified of someone approaching her.

What Was The Cause of This Behavior?

Whitney didn’t know what caused her daughter to act so strangely. Perhaps she was getting sick, or maybe she just hadn’t slept well the night before and was simply tired. Even though she was worried, Whitney though this behavior would probably pass soon.

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Even though there was no reason to suspect the new nanny, Whitney still thought Raylee’s behavior could have something to do with Melissa. Perhaps Raylee needed to get used to being left in the care of a stranger. The worried mom had no idea what was really going on.

Long Naps

After some time had passed, Melissa told Whitney that Raylee started taking naps which lasted for four hours. This was highly uncharacteristic behavior for Raylee, as she usually napped for only an hour or less. What made the little girl so exhausted?

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When parents have a newborn baby, they pay close attention to every little detail. They know their child’s every habit and mannerism, so this news worried Whitney and Chris. They decided to seek help from a specialist.

A Visit To The Doctor

Whitney decided to take Raylee to the doctor just to put her mind at ease. She wanted to know if there was any hidden cause for the little girl’s behavior. The doctor did a thorough examination and found there was nothing wrong with Raylee.

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He couldn’t find any indication that the baby was in any pain or getting sick. After Whitney told the doctor about the recent change at their home, he came to the conclusion that Raylee was probably just experiencing separation anxiety.

Just A Phase

Separation anxiety is a normal phase for many babies and toddlers. It happens when the child feels extreme anxiety after being separated from their parent. It usually begins when the child is six months old and reaches a high point when they’re between 10 and 18 months old.

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It manifests itself with the child clinging onto their parents, screaming and panicking any time a parent leaves the room, and problems with sleeping. Was Rylee just experiencing separation anxiety?

A Rising Suspicion

Even though it might have been possible Rylee was dealing with separation anxiety. However, Whitney knew that all of these behavioral problems began the day they hired Melissa. She knew there was a high possibility the nanny was to blame and couldn’t overlook it any longer.

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Every time the nanny would show up, Raylee ran over to her mom and dad and hid behind them. It could be that the little girl figured out that Melissa’s arrival meant that her parents would be leaving her. However, it could also mean that she was terrified of Melissa.

Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures

After one month had passed and Raylee was still acting strange, Whitney knew there was something going on. She knew it was time to take drastic measures and find out what was happening in her phone. The mother bought a nanny cam and set it up in the living room.

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Whitney purchased a camcorder which looked like an ordinary clock radio, but it actually had a hidden camera inside. It was placed in a strategic manner, and Whitney wondered if the camera would be able to catch any suspicious and unethical behavior.

Setting Up The Nanny Cam

The day Whitney set up the nanny cam would be the last day Melissa would be in her employment. What the camera recorded was horrific. After the concerned mother saw what the spy device was able to record, she was shocked to her very core.

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When Whitney returned home that day, she noticed something strange. The hidden camera was turned to face the wall, even though she had put it up to record the living room. Did Melissa realize the radio was actually a nanny cam?

Her Worst Fears Were Confirmed

Whitney rushed to her computer to see the footage which was recorded. She couldn’t even imagine the kind of horrors her poor daughter had to suffer through while her parents were out of the house.

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It turned out that the sweet and defenseless child had been a victim of routine abuse. Melissa, the woman who Whitney believed to be trustworthy as she was a former classmate with a glowing reference abused her baby girl.

Daily Neglect

Melissa treated Raylee so horrible as if she wasn’t even human. Whitney was horrified to see a recording of the nanny leaving the poor child in her baby jumper for two whole hours.

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Raylee must have suffered so much because of this. She was left stuck in one position as she grew more hungry and thirsty by the minute. The nanny ignored the child and just went about her business. Sadly, there were worst things on that recording.

Violent Physical Abuse

Melissa carried Raylee right in front of her nanny cam and it showed her spanking the child, trying to stop her crying and screaming. However, Raylee couldn’t help but wail due to her pain and panic.

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The next thing Melissa did was hold Raylee at waist height and shake her violently. She shook the baby from side to side and in circles, which resulted in such dizziness that the baby had no other choice than to stop crying.

A Horrible Syndrome

There is a terrible syndrome called Shaken Baby Syndrome. When a child is at a very tender age, shaking can actually cause brain damage. Even though this syndrome doesn’t have any physical signs, it leads to various long term problems. In some cases, it even causes death.

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When someone shakes a baby, it can lead to tears in their brain, nerves and blood vessels. The brain can also clash against the skull, which would cause swelling or bleeding. When a child suffers from this syndrome, they develop breathing problems, become sluggish and sometimes get seizures. When Whitney saw how the nanny was treating her baby, she feared the worst had happened.

Seeking Emergency Help

Whitney felt a surge of outrage and hurt, but mostly worry. She rushed her daughter straight to the emergency room. After the girl went through extensive examination, the doctor gave the concerned mom some good news.

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Raylee was much tougher than she looks and had sustained no physical injury. However, Whitney still couldn’t calm down. What if this incident had caused psychological harm and her daughter remained traumatized?

Calling The Police

Raylee was safe and sound now that she was far away from the nightmare nanny, but Melissa was still at large. Whitney called the police and explained the situation. She arranged with the police officer that they would arrest Melissa the next time she showed up to work.

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In the tape, Melissa is seen looking straight into the lens of the nanny cam. She picked up the radio and turned it around to face the wall. She must have realized that she was being recorded, and knew the camera captured her horrific actions.

A Surprise Ambush

Everyone was surprised when they realized Melissa actually showed up to work the next day. She acted as if nothing had happened and just assumed she would still be able to do her job. However, this was the day she would be called out on her misdeeds.

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As soon as Melissa stepped out of her car, she was arrested. Whitney managed to take a shot of the arrest before the nanny was taken to the police station. After a whole month of child abuse, Melissa would finally get what she deserved.

Not All Good News

One of the officers looked at the horrifying footage and told Whitney she was lucky to have caught the abuse when she did. He went on to say if this went on for even a few more days, it might have ended tragically. 

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However, Whitney also received some bad news. Even though she had caught Melissa on tape abusing her child, she would only be charged with a Class D felony.

First Offense

Since Melissa had no previous record, she couldn’t be charged with anything more than the lowest felony charged. She would be charged for “endangering the welfare of a minor”, but Whitney believed she should pay much more for this crime.

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If the jury found Melissa guilty, she would only get three months of jail time and later be submitted to a probation period which would last three years at the most. The most disturbing thing about this was, after Melissa’s probation period was over, she would be cleared of the crime.

Doing The Research

Whitney was upset at the idea that Melissa would only get a short jail sentence and a measly probation period. What’s worse, if she had no other offenses during that period, it would be as if she was never convicted at all. That meant that she could probably get hired as a nanny by another unsuspecting family. Whitney knew she couldn’t let this happen.

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When she began researching this subject, she was astounded with what she found. It turned out that there was no national registry for child abusers. This meant that after their probation period expires, there is no way to warn families not to hire them.

Telling Her Story

Whitney now felt that she had a responsibility. She had to do whatever it took to make it a widely known fact that Melissa abused little Raylee and would probably do it to another child. She wanted to make sure this would never happen again.

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Whitney knew the best way to warn people was to tell her story and speak out publicly against the woman who abused her child. If there was any way to get the media involved with her story, it would help spread the news.

Looking At The Big Picture

Even though she tried her best to tell her story far and wide, Whitney knew it wasn’t enough. No matter how many people it reached, it still wouldn’t be enough. She then started looking at the big picture.

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How many nannies who abuse children just like Melissa were out there? Not every one of them will be caught on camera. Most of them commit horrible crimes and put the children which were left in their care in immense danger.

It Was a Time For a Change

Whitney decided that she needed to look at the entire issue in hand, not just her case. So, she decided to put her new law degree to use and come up with a solution.

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She started campaigning and gathering supporters in Arkansas. If she managed to make a change in her own state, she would move on to the national level. However, this required a lot of planning and patience.

Sending Out a Bill

“We’re going to send out a bill,” Whitney told ABC News. “Arkansas will be the first state to have a registry if it passes. Everybody who’s been criminally convicted will be listed out there for everyone to see.”

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It would be a huge relief to parents everywhere if this bill passes. Not only would Melissa be unable to work as a nanny ever again, but also every other person who was found guilty of child abuse.

Melissa Stayed Quiet

Unfortunately, Raylee Matney is only one of the many victims of child abuse. While it’s great the family got their justice and everything turned out okay, that isn’t always the case. Thanks to Whitney’s quick thinking and mother’s intuition, she was able to save her daughter’s life.

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Melissa never shared her side of the store. When the media tried talking to her about the incident, she refused to even look at them. Her motives will forever stay a mystery to the public.

Raylee Is Just Fine

Luckily, Raylee grew up perfectly happy and it seems as if she’s forgotten about the abuse she received as a toddler.

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When Whitney was asked by an ABC news reporter how Raylee was doing now, her face instantly lit up. “[Raylee is] great. She is energetic, sassy, always smiling.” Even though there’s a possibility some psychological issues might manifest in the future, everything seems to be just fine.

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