Charges against father upgraded in Arnold toddler's death -

Charges against father upgraded in Arnold toddler's death

ARNOLD, Mo ( -- Charges against an Arnold father were upgraded on Tuesday after police say he beat his 18-month-old daughter to death in their home on Sunday.

Police said Aliyah McFarland was pronounced dead at the hospital just before 3 p.m., on Monday. She had been shaken, beaten and violently squeezed.

According to a statement filed in court, Jamell Johnson, 21, admitted to beating and shaking his daughter Sunday afternoon.  He was originally charged Monday with child abuse and assault. Those charges were upgraded Tuesday to first-degree child abuse and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Jefferson County prosecutor Forrest Wegge says the amended child abuse charge is punishable by up to life in prison.

Authorities said the incident happened in an apartment on Crosswinds Drive in Arnold.  Soon after neighbors witnessed paramedics carrying the lifeless toddler out of the home on Sunday afternoon, many set up a memorial near the child's home.  A sign read, "RIP Baby Girl".

“The baby had a bruise on her jaw when the paramedic brought her out,” neighbor James Mayes said. “The paramedic had her in the hand, you can see her head dangling with a bruise on her jaw.”

The child was first taken to St. Anthony's Medical Center. She was then flown to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, but later died.

Police said McFarland's mother was not home when the abuse happened.

Johnson is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bond.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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