A 23-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child abuse homicide.
Cameron Willingham, of Provo, was booked into the Utah County jail on Wednesday night on suspicion of child abuse homicide in connection to the death of a four-month-old baby girl. Provo police identified the child as Nevaeh King.
Nevaeh, whose mother is dating Willingham, died Wednesday morning. Police officials said a press release that the baby died from serious head and neck injuries, as well as abdominal hemorrhaging. Willingham is not the child’s father, according to police.
“We are shocked by the death of a defenseless person, but we want to assure the community that we are carefully investigating this case,” the release says.
Kenneth Brown, who is married to Nevaeh’s biological grandmother, said he’d only seen the baby one time since she was born, “but the fact that we weren’t really a part of her life makes me angry.”
Brown said his wife knew something was wrong, but didn’t have an address for where to send the Department of Child and Family Services. They got a call Monday night that Nevaeh was being flown to Primary Children’s Hospital, Brown said, and when they got to the hospital and saw her, he felt “heartbroken” and “disgusted with the whole situation.”
Brown said he had sole custody of his own children for many years after his ex-wife moved in with a man who abused them.
“This hits really too close to home,” he said.
Willingham’s bail is set at $252,000, cash-only, according to a jail staff member. He has not been formally charged, court records show.
Willingham has a criminal history that extends back to 2012, including drug- and assault-related charges.
Court documents say that on March 19, 2016, Willingham put his then-girlfriend, who was 32 weeks pregnant, in a choke hold and then pushed her to the ground during an argument at their home. They continued to argue while driving to the hospital, the girlfriend told police, and Willingham became angry when she couldn’t come up with a story about why she was hurt.
He began to drive away from the hospital, records say, but the girlfriend said she was afraid to leave with him, so she rolled out of the moving vehicle onto the asphalt of the parking lot. In a phone interview that day with police, Willingham denied the fight was physical and refused to meet with the responding officer to fill out a witness statement, court documents say.
Two months later, the hospital called police on account of a family fight involving Willingham, who was at the hospital with his girlfriend who had just given birth. The two hadn’t seen each other since the aforementioned assault, the woman told an officer.
Nurses told police they feared for the woman’s safety, and police spoke to Willingham about the earlier incident. Willingham told police he hadn’t contacted them because he was afraid and wanted to be there for his baby.
“He said he knew what he had done was wrong and he was sorry,” court documents say. Police arrested Willingham that day, and he was later convicting of misdemeanor count of assaulting a pregnant person. He served 14 days in jail and was sentenced to 18 months probation, according to a court docket.
In November 2016, the woman whom he’d assaulted filed for a protective order against Willingham.
The next month, Willingham was charged with another domestic violence-related assault involving a pregnant woman, which is pending. Willingham has pleaded not guilty in that case and had a warrant out for his arrest after failing to appear in court.