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Child’s death leads to charges for mom, grandmother, father

POSTED: June 19, 2014 6:11 p.m.
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Sharon Nyberg

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A 5-month-old girl’s mother and two other people remain in the Effingham County Jail after being arrested Monday in connection with the child’s death.

Summer Wynn Shelley, 19, of Bloomingdale was charged by Effingham County Sheriff’s investigators with second-degree cruelty to children and making false statements, both felonies, and possession of marijuana and drug-related objects.

On April 26, deputies responded to a home on Appaloosa Way on a report of a child not breathing. The child, Payton Ward, was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.

“We knew from day one, from the get-go when investigators and deputies arrived, that something didn’t quite add up,” said Effingham County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

During the investigation, detectives found drugs and drug-related objects inside of the home, according to Ehsanipoor.

“The investigation revealed that Summer Shelley, who was high on drugs, did not provide the child with necessary medical care and that she was smoking marijuana in bed with the child with her, prior to falling asleep for an extended period of time,” he said.

According to investigators, Shelley admitted to knowing on the night of April 25 that her daughter needed to see a doctor. But “she chose instead to get high and lay down with the baby” and did not wake up until several hours later, Ehsanipoor said.

The investigation lasted several weeks. Along with the wait for the child’s autopsy results, “our investigation was hindered by false statements,” Ehsanipoor said.

The child’s grandmother, Sharon Victoria Nyberg, 43, of Guyton, was charged with making false statements to law enforcement regarding the death investigation.

The child’s father, Bryant Eugene Ward, 25, of Bloomingdale also was arrested. Ward, who is on parole, was charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Shelley is in jail on a $17,800 bond. Nyberg’s bond was set at $11,200 and Ward’s at $3,000.

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