Ammarie’s Story – A Tragic End for a Sweet Baby Girl
My apologies for being so far behind with our family news. My granddaughter Emily is the one who posts my blogs for me (since I don’t have a clue about how to do it myself), and she has been very busy these past few months. Then in mid-June our family was thrust into a tragic situation and we all began a very difficult journey after losing Dani’s baby girl.
Even though we may eventually catch you up on the family news (my diary from this past winter and spring) I want to share the recent traumatic events so that you will know what our family has been going through.
This will be a brief synopsis of that baby girl’s short life, and an explanation telling what happened to her.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN - Dani met Roger on a trip when she was visiting another friend, and then spent some time with him in Oregon at his sister’s place. Roger charmed her, and he became her new boyfriend. His sister brought him here to visit and he stayed at Andrea’s house. They helped me feed cows for several days when Andrea went with Emily to Idaho Falls--when Christopher (Emily’s 3-year old boy) became very sick with pneumonia and was taken by life flight to the hospital in Idaho Falls.
Dani and Roger helped me while she was gone. I paid Roger for his help, but he never cashed the check. We found out later that this may have been because he had no ID, no driver’s license. His sister came and got him after the week he spent here, and took him back to Oregon. He was living with his sister and her husband and their little kid in Ontario.
Later his sister brought him back again and he stayed with Dani, sometimes at Andrea’s house, sometimes with Dani’s father (Mark) when Dani was staying out there, sometimes with friends. He didn’t have a job and talked about doing job applications but never followed through or got a job, maybe because he didn’t have a driver’s license or ID. He helped us occasionally on the ranch, a few hours now and then, and I paid him for his help, but he never seemed to want a real job. Dani had several jobs over the course of the months they spent together (and worked in the clothing department at Murdochs), but Roger was more interested in going off to do things with Dani’s friends and ride their motorcycles.
Then he announced to all of us that he was taking Dani back to Oregon to “emancipate” her so she could have fun and just “be a kid”. She was 17 and he was 20 and this probably wasn’t legal to take a minor to another state, but Andrea didn’t try to stop them because Dani was going through a rebellious teenager stage and Andrea didn’t want to alienate her daughter.
When Roger and Dani came back from Oregon, she was pregnant and he was a little nervous, telling Andrea at one point that he was not ready to be a dad. Andrea tried to be supportive and upbeat—trying to be helpful, trying to encourage Roger to step up to his responsibilities and take care of Dani and the coming baby.
Friends found them an old house in town to stay in –they could work on fixing it up as part of the rent. Dani got a job at the Discovery Care Center in the kitchen, and Roger got a job with Chris Bird at the local tire shop. He stuck with it for a few weeks. Dani sometimes took him to work, and sometimes he drove an old beater car he acquired, but he was driving it without a license, insurance or registration.
Chris was really good to him, and gave him a bonus the first week, trying to help him out. Roger had to have someone (usually Andrea) cash his paychecks for him at the bank, however, since he still didn’t have an ID or a bank account anywhere.
He didn’t work at that job very long. He told several people that Chris wasn’t paying enough money, so he quit and said he was going to get a job at the beam plant. He didn’t tell any of us he’d quit; he kept going somewhere like he was going to work.
The Saturday afternoon that the house they were staying in caught on fire (caused by problems with old wiring) he discovered it ablaze and woke Dani up ---she was tired after her part day at work and was taking a nap. Once the fire was put out, friends helped salvage some of their stuff out of the house after the fire crew let them go back in.
The house was destroyed so they stayed a few days with Mark (Dani’s dad) until Mark and Jennifer didn’t want Roger there anymore. They (and Charlie) had little tolerance for Roger because he was lazy and arrogant. Andrea let them come live in one of the bedrooms in her basement until they could find another place and Roger could get another job. They never could get another place and Roger didn’t get another job. Dani was still working in the kitchen at Discovery Care Center. Roger spent his time playing video games and goofing around with friends (usually in the evenings because most of their friends do have jobs).
Dani was pregnant and working and always tired. Roger slept all day and dragged her out to party with their friends in the evenings. They were always coming home late, and she had to get up early in the mornings to go to work while he stayed in bed until noon or later. Dani’s health suffered and she was constantly tired.
He never did get another job. Andrea tried to help him with job applications by getting a copy of his birth certificate so he’d have that for ID, and got a copy of his high school transcript, which he needed to get a job that he’d applied for, but he still needed a driver’s license—and he did not try to get one. We began to wonder if there was some reason in his past that would prohibit him from getting a driver’s license.
He helped us occasionally and I paid him for his time, trying to help him and Dani financially, but each time after he got paid he didn’t want to help again for long periods. Dani was supporting them both and Andrea was providing a place for them to stay since we all wanted the baby to have a safe place.
Roger did go with Dani to her doctor appointments while she was pregnant and after the baby was born, but he’d just sit there doing his video games. He was more interested in his video games or doing things on his phone than he was in the baby.
Dani and Roger argued a lot, but he’d always convince her that they should stay together. She was easily manipulated and he was good at controlling her mind.
In mid-March, Andrea and Emily hosted a baby shower for Dani. She would be having her baby in mid to late April, near the end of our calving season, and the baby was going to be a girl.
Early morning on April 14th Dani broke her water and Andrea drove her and Roger to the hospital. Dani had her baby fairly quickly—after only 17 minutes in hard labor. She had a little girl, 7 pounds 10 ounces, 20 inches long, and named her Ammarie (pronounced Ah-mah’ree) Ray Lynne. After the baby had safely arrived, Andrea came home to get some things for Dani, and clothes for the baby—stuff they hadn’t taken time to grab when they rushed off to the hospital.
We were glad that our calving was nearly done; our last heifer had calved, and the two older cows were still on hold (and probably wouldn’t have any calving difficulty) and Andrea wasn’t really needed here. She could devote her time and energy to helping Dani with the new baby.
That next morning Andrea helped me feed the cows then went back to town. She brought Roger and Dani and baby home from the hospital that evening. They stopped here at our house so Lynn and I could get a peek at that new little kid on their way home.
Charlie came out that evening to Andrea’s house to see the baby, and so did Lynn’s sister Jenelle, and she brought some baby clothes.
The next day, Sunday, was warmer—the warmest day we’d had all spring—up to 70 degrees. The snow was melting and just about gone from our fields. Andrea came briefly to help me feed cows; she was very tired, having been up most of the night helping Dani with the baby, since Dani was exhausted.
April 17, Andrea took Dani and baby to the doctor for a checkup; Dani had a fever and wasn’t feeling very well so the doctor prescribed an antibiotic. She was still trying to breast feed the baby, but pumping milk also, to have some for bottle feeding.
Dani was frail and anemic but trying to take good care of the baby in spite of lack of sleep. Roger wasn’t much help and mainly wanted to keep up his social life with their friends.
On June 4 Dani and Roger took the baby to the ER in the middle of the night. The baby had burped up fluid and aspirated some of it into her lungs. They took an x-ray and realized the right lung had fluid in it. They suctioned fluid out of the back of her throat, and the baby spent a couple hours in the ER and then Dani and Roger brought her home again.
None of them got any sleep that night so Andrea tried to get a little rest the next day, in between helping with the baby—rocking her and trying now and then to feed her with a bottle. Ammarie was having trouble swallowing and would only nurse a little bit now and then.
Then Andrea called us at 7 pm to tell me that they were on their way to the hospital again with the baby, who was having trouble breathing and she looked really bad. There was a different doctor this time in the ER and he realized the baby’s lungs were severely compromised. A respiratory nurse put a tube into the lungs and suctioned out a lot of stuff. They were able to bring the baby home again before midnight.
The next morning (June 6) Andrea called to tell us that Dani was very ill with a high fever—she had mastitis due to not pumping enough for the baby during this traumatic time. The clinic had called to say the doctor could see them at 10:30. Andrea took Dani and the baby in, and the doctor was appalled at how serious this baby’s breathing was; he noted on her record that she’d been brought into the ER three times, and said she should have been sent somewhere else a lot quicker. He sent them to Community Hospital in Missoula, where there’s an excellent pediatric ICU and he wanted them to get there immediately. Rather than have to use a life flight, Andrea opted to drive them. She came home to get Roger and then took them all to Missoula.
At that hospital they did more thorough checking. She was doing better by the next day, however, and Andrea was able to bring them all home again. Andrea made arrangements with Apria Health Care to get an electric suctioning device (like the nurses had used in the hospital) to suction fluid from the back of her throat in case the baby suffered another swallowing problem and choked. They never did have to use it.
Ammarie seemed to be doing better for a while. We were all hoping the baby’s health was improving and that she would outgrow the swallowing problem. After the baby was born there were times Roger seemed like he might actually want to grow up and become responsible, and sometimes he was really good with the baby, rocking her, feeding her, etc. but also times he was moody and angry and impatient with the baby and rough on her if she wouldn’t stop crying.
Dani was either oblivious or in denial of the possibility that Roger hurt the baby because she always defended him. He had a mind control over her and manipulated her a lot. And some of the trauma to that baby probably occurred when Dani was napping (she was always tired—she had health issues and anemia during the last stages of pregnancy and afterward; she was trying to nurse the baby and have enough milk). Roger was often babysitting Ammarie while Dani slept, and took the baby in the other room.
THE FATAL NIGHT - Dani and Roger took garbage to the dump late that afternoon on June 21, and Andrea babysat Ammarie—rocking and feeding her. The baby seemed fine and was a little sleepy when Andrea gave her back to Dani after they got home and went downstairs. Dani was very tired and went to bed. The baby started fussing so Roger took her in the other room to rock her. Andrea, upstairs, also went to bed, and for a while she heard the baby crying--and then nothing, and she assumed that Ammarie went to sleep. The next thing she knew, Dani was rushing upstairs, and was screaming, “She’s not breathing!” Roger had woke Dani up to tell her the baby wasn’t breathing. She was blue and lifeless.
By then it was about 9:30 pm. They called 911 and rushed off to town with the unresponsive baby, and were met by the ambulance and EMTs who worked on the baby all the way to the hospital. She arrived not breathing, with no heartbeat. The medical team was able to get her heart beating again but Ammarie was by then intubated and on life support. Family members had been called; Dani’s father and brother Charlie, and Emily came to the hospital. Mark and Andrea both suspected that Roger had treated the baby too roughly.
Andrea called us from the hospital to tell us that the baby was being flown by life-flight to Idaho Falls and that she was going to drive Dani and Roger to Idaho Falls; they left Salmon about midnight.
The sad thing is that the baby was already brain dead, probably by the time they got her to the hospital here at Salmon, but the doctors and nurses tried their best and sent her on to Idaho Falls. The doctor there said they could not treat her in Idaho Falls; the trauma to her head was too extensive, with bleeding on her brain (and he suspected shaken baby syndrome). They gave Ammaria a transfusion and a lot of medication and sent her by life flight to Salt Lake at 5 a.m. that morning—and Andrea drove to Salt Lake with Dani and Roger.
It soon became obvious to the doctors in Salt Lake that Ammarie had suffered significant trauma; not only to her brain but also her ribs. The x-rays showed broken ribs in various stages of healing, some occurring as much as two weeks prior. So this became a crime investigation as well as a medical situation. Our Lemhi County Sheriff’s department sent two people to Salt Lake to question Roger and family members. It was a sad and horrific time for everyone, grieving over what had happened to that baby—and the terrible feelings about what had been done to that child—and trying to support Dani in her grief. The two days in Salt Lake were a nightmare. Everyone was also being questioned by the investigators and the social worker to try to put together the facts of what had happened to that baby.
Andrea requested that a Chaplain come in and say a blessing for Ammaie. Emily left for a while to go shopping and got a beautiful gold butterfly, for Dani to keep, in remembrance of that little girl who was only in our lives so briefly.
Ammarie was finally taken off life support Friday evening after family members had a chance to come and say good-by to her. Charlie, Samantha, Emily and one of her close friends, Mark and Jen, Mark’s mom and Mark’s older son Dusty were able to get there that afternoon or earlier (Dusty and his wife had to go back before the final gathering), but they all had to wait until evening for Roger’s parents to get there from Oregon before they did the final good-by. We would have come, too, but Lynn and I are not up for driving that far anymore, and we were the ones staying home and doing all the chores.
That evening everyone gathered around the baby and many of them sang to her, played special music, and said their last tearful good-byes. Andrea called us on her cell phone and had it on speaker so we could listen; even though Lynn and I couldn’t hear much, we were “there” in the room with them all, sitting quietly at home but feeling like we were a part of that gathering to honor and say good-by to that sweet baby. She was finally taken off life support at 10:36 p.m.
Everyone was emotionally and physically exhausted. Andrea had gone 3 days without sleep or eating much, trying to help Dani, and had spent the nights in the hospital room with the baby, sometimes taking a tiny cat-nap in a reclining chair. Nurses came and went, monitoring the tiny little body on life support. After Ammarie was taken off life support and taken away (for an autopsy, as required by the circumstances of her death), Andrea stayed at the hospital; it was wee hours of morning before everyone else left.
Dani went with Roger and his parents and his step-dad’s son to stay with them at their motel. That next morning—Saturday--Andrea tracked down where they were and waited until they got up, to know if Dani would be coming home with her. Dani chose to ride home with Roger and his parents, so they convoyed back to Idaho.
Since Roger was under criminal investigation for murder, the deputies in Lemhi County were alerted regarding their time of departure from Salt Lake, and two of them were waiting at the Baker store when Andrea turned off the highway, followed by Roger’s parents’ pickup. The deputies followed them up the creek and arrested Roger as soon as he got to Andrea’s house, and took him away to jail.
Roger’s parents and little brother went to town and bought booze and came back to spend the night at Andrea’s house. They became obnoxious and Andrea, in her exhausted condition, finally snapped and had to leave. She went up to Michael and Carolyn’s house, then they brought her back and had a good friend stay with her to protect her in her own house, and the next day Mark and Jen, Charlie and Carolyn came to Andrea’s house to diplomatically convince Roger’s family to leave. We gave them money for a motel, to get them out of her house.
Roger’s arraignment had to wait until the official autopsy report on the baby, but it was accomplished quickly. That next day—Monday—he was officially charged, had a court-appointed lawyer, and bail was set at $500,000. A hearing has been set for July 25th, to determine if he will go to trial at a later date.
This has all been extremely hard for Dani (especially now that she is finally beginning to admit and realize that her boyfriend killed her baby). She is no longer trying to defend him. It’s also been very hard for Andrea, who bonded so closely with that beautiful little girl during the times she was taking care of Ammarie when Dani was sleeping.
This has hit Andrea really hard, as she grieves for the loss of that precious little grandchild and also is trying to help her daughter through this loss. It is very complicated and made more horrific by the fact that it was basically murder, and now the parents of the boyfriend are trying to blame Dani and doing many nasty things. It’s a heavy load for a young grieving mother to bear.
We are all hit hard by grief. Andrea is reminded constantly of the loss because sometimes she took care of that baby and so many things in her house remind her of that little girl. The moments of deep grief for anyone who has ever lost a loved one are overwhelming—the gut-wrenching emotions that tear at your heart, bringing forth uncontrollable sobs of utter desolation and bottomless grief. It’s as if the tribulations and sorrows of the whole world are weighing on your very soul.
It takes a lot of time to get past our vulnerability to such deep emotions. Earlier experience makes me realize that these feelings will still erupt many times. It is a long journey. Our only solace is knowing that the One who loves us best will be walking alongside us the whole way, even when we are so immersed in grief that we may be unaware of His love and comfort until later.
Dani is a fragile, devastated young mother who loved her baby dearly and tried hard to do her best for that little girl. She was very young and insecure when she met Roger, and easily swayed by his smooth talking, false front and lies. She is also the victim in this terrible tragedy, but is starting to see the realities. She spent several nights with friends, and then with her oldest brother Dusty and his wife and family in Pocatello after Dusty drove to meet up with the officials bringing Ammarie’s body back to Salmon to the funeral home. Dani and Dusty were allowed to convoy with them to bring her baby home. Dusty and Emily have made all the arrangements at the mortuary so that Dani’s parents didn’t have to deal with it.
The bright spot in all this is the love and support from family and friends; this tragedy has brought Dani's family together in a wonderful way, to try to shelter and protect her and give her the help she needs--in order to come to grips with what happened and to hopefully find her own equilibrium again. She also has support and protection from the law enforcement people who are prosecuting the boyfriend and keeping her safe from Roger’s vindictive parents who are trying to blame Dani. There are many things helping move her fragile condition and emotions in the right direction and to make sure she gets some professional help and grief counseling as well as love and support.
There will be a memorial gathering for Ammarie at a later date when family and friends can get together again. Some of us have tried to put our feelings into words, and this is what I’d like to say at that memorial:
Memories of a Precious Baby Girl
When Grandpa Lynn and I first heard about the baby that would arrive in April, we were excited.
When Dani and Roger had us guess whether it would be a boy or a girl we were hoping for a girl---our first great granddaughter. We have four great grandsons and we thought it would be very special to have a little girl.
Dani and Roger gave us a pink heart and a blue star, to have us guess, until they knew what sex the baby would be. When we found out, we put the little pink heart on our calving calendar that hangs on the kitchen wall, and wrote “It’s a Girl” on it … and that little pink heart is still there as a reminder of that special time.
When she was born on April 14, on Carolyn’s birthday and a day before Michael’s birthday, we thought that was special, too—a birthday that would be easy to remember in the family “cluster” of April birthdays—including her 2nd cousin Joseph and her great uncle Nick.
My favorite photo of that little girl is the one Emily took and sent to us the day Dani’s baby was born—with that smiling young mother cradling that precious new little girl in her arms.
Grandpa Lynn and I got to see her when Dani and Roger brought the baby home from the hospital; Grandpa and I went out in the driveway as they drove past our house on their way home to Andrea’s house, and they stopped briefly so we could get our first close-up look at that beautiful sleeping baby.
She was a sweetie, and charmed everyone who saw her and got to hold her.
When Grandpa Lynn was at Andrea’s house this spring, on several occasions, to help babysit Christopher (Emily’s little boy who sometimes spends time out here), he got to see little Ammarie also, a few times, being held and rocked.
We grieved deeply when we all lost that little angel, but there was one bright incident amid the grief. There was a beautiful butterfly fluttering around our windows in the sunshine the afternoon before Ammarie was truly gone. Lynn noticed the monarch butterfly that continued to hang around our kitchen and dining room windows for several hours, as if her little spirit was saying good-by.
We shall miss her deeply, and regret that we won’t have a chance to see her learn to crawl, and walk, and grow into a lovely young woman. But we shall cherish the moments we were able to enjoy her, in her short life, and the brief memories, and hold her forever in our hearts.
Postscript: We have been immensely helped through all of this by the prayers and love of family and friends. Many people have asked how they could help. We want them to know that Emily set up a special account in Dani’s name, for people who want to donate toward the expenses of the baby’s cremation, etc.
Details for donating…
“Baby Ammarie”. Please donate or share with others—any help is greatly appreciated and will be used to help with the existing medical expenses Dani will have to cover. Thanks in advance for your kindness and support.
Here’s the link: https://gofund.me/9ca9af1b
Emily's fiancé Aj