There was a surprising development today in the death of a two-year-old girl.
Jennifer Medzie, 21, Allport, is facing homicide charges in connection with the death of Sophia Lauder.
The Woodland toddler was rushed to the hospital with signs of shaken baby syndrome in 2013, police said.
Now, authorities say Medzie is responsible for that. We have more on the investigation that led to today’s arrest.
It’s been three years since a little girl was taken from her home with severe injuries, and later died. Now, an arrest has been made.
“It’s about time. Justice needed to be served for that little girl,” says Sophia’s father’s girlfriend Erica Vehovic.
It’s a death that still haunts father Cody Lauder. His home is filled with pictures of his daughter, Sophia, who was just two years old.
“He cried about it all the time. How could you not? That was his daughter. That was his life. And to think that somebody he was with took her life,” says Vehovic.
Police say Medzie was 18 at the time, and had been supervising the girl for two months in the mornings while Lauder was at work, but sent e-mails showing she was tired of watching her.
The complaint says doctors found signs of shaken baby syndrome, that Sophia died of a loss of oxygen to the brain, likely suffered “intense head pain,” and was pronounced brain dead after three days in Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.
“How could you do that to an innocent child?” says Vehovic.
Police say Medzie reported that the girl passed out in her arms on Nov. 15, 2013, but she didn’t call 9-1-1 for more than an hour.
The complaint says Medzie later admitted to shaking the girl twice the month before.
Investigators say her statements don’t match the evidence.
“We’ve even seen her at the fair a few times. She walked right by us and his face, he just got this blank look on his face, and I knew that it was her,” says Vehovic.
Lauder says he’s relieved, but nothing will bring Sophia back. He also posted on Facebook that “finally after almost 3 years, justice is being served. …Dada loves and misses you so much.”
“I said, ‘Was it hard for you to trust women after this?’ and he said, ‘Of course,’ and then all of a sudden, he got the call this morning that she got arrested,” says Vehovic.
Vehovic says they’d just brought a picture of Sophia to the district attorney’s office a week or two ago.
“Just to get things going. It just seemed like we hadn’t heard anything,” says Vehovic.
Medzie was arraigned on Thursday morning and was denied bail due to the seriousness of the charges.
In response to Medzie’s arrest, the grandmother of the little girl, Brandi Lauder, wrote this in a statement, saying:
“I would like to take this opportunity and thank the state police and DA for continuing to pursue prosecution of Jennifer Medzie. …We are truly grateful that we are finally moving forward with this case.”
At the time of Sophia’s death, there was some controversy because her family was initially blocked from donating her organs.
Because of her condition, the Clearfield County district attorney, Bill Shaw, felt an autopsy should have been conducted before her organs were donated.
He was worried that evidence would be altered, which could affect the prosecution.
Then, 24 hours after she died, at an emergency hearing, a judge ordered that her organs could be donated before the autopsy.