Babysitter Charged With Murder 35 Years After Man She Violently Shook as Baby Died

A Texas babysitter was recently charged with the murder of a Florida man who died in 2019, more than 35 years after she shook the man as a baby, causing permanent disabilities.

According to arrest records, the woman, 59-year-old Terry Delores McKirchy, was arrested on July 2 and booked into a jail in Texas, after a grand jury in Broward County, Florida, found her guilty of first-degree murder for a crime she allegedly committed in 1984.

In 1984, McKirchy was babysitting 5-month-old Benjamin Keith Dowling and shook him so hard he sustained permanent brain damage. According to the Associated Press, McKirchy was accused of attempted murder in 1984 after the incident occurred and plead no contest. McKirchy was sentenced to weekends in jail for three months and three years of probation after pleading no contest.

Despite her previous sentencing, McKirchy now faces life in prison after a Florida medical examiner said Dowling died because of his mental and physical disabilities caused by McKirchy in 1984. Dowling died in 2019 at the age of 35.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, the Broward State Attorney's Office said, "The passage of time between the injuries sustained and the death of the victim were considered by the forensic experts who conducted the autopsy and ruled the death was directly caused by the injuries from 1984. The facts speak for themselves and this case was presented to the grand jury, which determined that this was a homicide."

Previous police reports said doctors believed Dowling exhibited signs of "shaken head syndrome," but McKirchy denied shaking the boy and instead said he fell off of a couch.

The Sun-Sentinel reported Dowling's mother dropped her son off at McKirchy's home on July 3, 1984 and noticed that something was wrong immediately after she picked him up.

After McKirchy accepted the plea deal, McKirchy told the Miami Herald in 1985 she was innocent and did not cause Dowling's injuries.

"I know I didn't do it. My conscience is clear. But I can't deal with it anymore," McKirchy told the Miami Herald in 1985. "I'm six months pregnant. You wouldn't believe what this has done to my family."

The Broward State Attorney's Office also provided Newsweek with a statement from Dowling's parents, Rae and Joe, which said, "Benjamin never crawled, fully rolled over, walked, never talked, never fed himself, he never enjoyed a hamburger or an ice cream cone, he could never tell us when he had an itch or anything hurt. When he cried in pain, we as a family and caregivers had to guess as to what was wrong and hope that we could satisfy his need."

The statement continued, "Benjamin was our first child, he was not able to live his life, it was taken away from him at the age 5 1/2 months, although he lived to be 35 years old, and the life we would have lived as a family was forever altered. We cherish our time with and memories of Benjamin, and we continue to do support him through our belief that there should be justice for Benjamin."

Babysitter charged with murder
A babysitter was recently indicted by a Broward County, Florida, grand jury on first-degree murder, more than 35 years after she violently shook a baby causing permanent damage. Above, the Broward County Judicial Complex is seen on June 5, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Saul Martinez/Getty