DAYTON, Texas – A Liberty County teenager has been charged in the death of his 18-month-old niece.
Jack Clynton Hollis, 18, is mentally challenged, according to law enforcement and neighbors.
The toddler and her 3-year-old sister live with their grandparents. They left the girls in the care of Hollis, their son, at their Dayton home Tuesday evening.
The grandparents told investigators the toddler wasn’t breathing when they returned home. She was rushed to a hospital where she died sometime Wednesday morning.
"I think everybody is just overwhelmed and very sad, heartbroken," said Capt. Rex Evans with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office. "We've had a series of really heartbreaking events here in our county just in the last five to six months."
Neighbors were also saddened to hear the news. Connie Redingder said the baby should have never been left alone with the teen.
"Enough can happen with you and I watching our children. You turn your back, something happens," said Redingder. "But someone like that, they don't have the capacity to think."
"I have a 6-year-old and I have an 8-month-old and that's unacceptable," said Leann Watton, another neighbor.
The exact cause of death is still under investigation.
The child’s grandfather told the Cleveland Advocate that she had a heart murmur and he believes that could have been a factor.
An autopsy will be performed.
Hollis is being held on a charge of injury to a child.