RHEA COUNTY, Tenn. - A Tennessee woman was arrested Monday for allegedly pouring scalding water on a 2-year-old girl’s feet because she said she was having “a bad day,” according to the family and officials.
Jennifer Vaughn, 53, was arrested and charged with felony aggravated child abuse, after the Aug. 11 incident in Rhea County, Tennessee, when she was watching Kaylee, 2. Vaughn is the girl's step-grandmother. The child was rushed to a local hospital and then taken to a burn center in Georgia, Fox Chattanooga reported.
Kaylee’s mother, Brittany Smith, told the station that the damage to her daughter’s skin was burned so badly that the skin grafts might not take.
“It just looked like her skin was just melting off,” Smith said.
Smith said Vaughn called her that day, in a panic, saying that Kaylee had gotten burned and asked her to come immediately. Kaylee’s mother said Vaughn told her that she had used scalding water to punish the 2-year-old girl because she was having “a bad day.”
“When I saw them it was just, it was the worst scald burns I’d ever seen,” Detective Rocky Potter of the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department, who has been working on the case, told Fox Chattanooga.
The hospital called Kaylee’s injuries “sock burns,” because the burns on her feet looked like a pair of socks, Potter told the station.
"This ranks right up there with one of the worst ones I have seen," Potter said, adding that investigators determined Vaughn did use scalding water to punish the little girl.
"She (Vaughn) admitted to what she done," Smith said. "It's not right. ... There is nothing in this world that a 2-year-old can do, no matter how bad they lashed out at you.“
Smith doesn't know when her daughter will be able to walk again, the station reported.
Kaylee is now home, but requires more surgeries, the report said. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help cover the child’s ongoing medical costs.
If convicted, Vaughn could face 15 to 80 years in prison.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.