KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Malaya Heun was an angel, says her great aunt. Lori Hall says through tears, “I just don’t understand how people can be so cold and heartless. Because she didn’t deserve it.” Kannapolis police say the 15-month-old baby girl died Wednesday after a brutal assault Monday. Hall says, “I seen (sic) a picture of her in the hospital, it don’t (sic) even look like the same child.”
Police Chief Woody Chavis declined to talk about the toddler’s injuries until a suspect is arrested. He says, “Whoever did this to the child is the only one who actually knows what was done.” He is vowing swift action. “This is one of the most brutal assaults on a child I’ve ever seen in my career,” says Chavis.
Chavis tells WCCB he’s got six detectives working this case non-stop. He says they’re interviewing possible witnesses and suspects. Neighbors say the violent assault on the little girl happened inside a townhouse on Running Brook Drive where Malaya lived with her mother and three siblings.
Neighbor Christine Howard says, “I really hope that person pays dearly, because it was a very small baby.” Neighbor Robin Rains says, “I think the person, whoever it is, needs to be done the exact same way. If not worse.”
Malaya’s mother tells WCCB, “I will never see her smile again, never hold her in my arms and never get to see her grow up graduate and get married. It’s just not fair. She should be here with me.”
Malaya’s aunt tells us the girl’s mother and father are separated, and that neither were home when the assault happened. She says, “I know the mother’s sister and her fiancé was babysitting. We don’t know who else was around.”
The little girl’s funeral is being planned for Monday. Under new a new North Carolina law, convicted child abusers face 25 years to life behind bars.