A Colorado Springs woman told police she repeatedly shook and dropped her boyfriend’s 1-year-old daughter in the days and hours before the toddler fell unconscious.
Melissa Alexander, 27, is suspected of first-degree murder in the death of Jocilynn Graham, who was hospitalized in mid-November while her father was away for Army training.
Alexander is being held in the El Paso County jail without bond.
After nearly a month in the hospital, doctors took Jocilynn off a feeding tube on Wednesday. She died two days later in a hospice center, according to an arrest affidavit.
Alexander had been caring for several children in the days before her arrest in mid-November. She has a 2-year-old son and often babysat a neighbor’s 7-month-old child.
Alexander also had been caring for Jocilynn since mid-October while her father, Matt Strickland, trained in Louisiana for overseas deployment.
She initially told police that she was putting on makeup when she heard a “thud” and found Jocilynn in another room on the floor, unresponsive.
While being questioned by three detectives, though, Alexander admitted repeatedly abusing Jocilynn, the affidavit said.
She told police she threw a sippy cup at Jocilynn two days before Jocilynn was taken to the hospital. She threw the cup hard, according to the affidavit, on an “8 or 9 out of 10 on a scale of 1-10.”
Alexander also told police she almost dropped Jocilynn that day while walking across a parking lot. She grabbed the toddler by her forearm right before she hit the pavement.
On Nov. 8, Alexander shook Jocilynn for 10-15 seconds while babysitting at a neighbor’s house, the affidavit said. She walked away from the child after “tossing” her on the touch.
A few minutes later, she shook Jocilynn again, this time because Alexander was upset that Jocilynn had fallen asleep, the affidavit said.
She told police that she shook Jocilynn “not that hard, like a 4. I’ve shaken my son harder.”
Alexander gave several accounts of what happened on Nov. 9, when Jocilynn was hospitalized.
At 12:15 p.m. that day, Alexander’s neighbor stopped by the house and saw Jocilynn smile and wave, the affidavit said.
Fifteen to 30 minutes later, Alexander rushed to that neighbor’s home saying Jocilynn was gasping for air and unresponsive.
When pressed by one detective, Alexander said she pushed Jocilynn backwards onto the floor while changing the toddler's diaper.
Alexander later told another detective that she let Jocilynn — who was wiggling and crying — fall while carrying her to change her diaper, according to the affidavit. The back of Jocilynn’s head hit the floor.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This version corrects the victim's last name.