On December 26, 2018, a woman brought 8 year old Raylee JoLynn Browning to medical professionals and reported that she was not breathing. According to the police report, the staff noted that the woman was rather "unemotional" for such a statement.
Police were summoned to the Plateau Medical Center where the girl was suffering from cardiac arrest. A report written by Oak Hill Police Sergeant James Pack stated that the girl was covered with burns, bruises, lacerations and a torn rectum. In initial interviews with the police, none of the stories of the adults matched up which only increased suspicions.
According to the reports, Sherie told police that Raylee had fallen ill the previous day and during a shower that morning, had a nosebleed. Allegedly, this was a side effect of one of the medications that she was on. When exiting the shower, it was reported that she fell. Raylee was reported to be shivering non stop since then, and that her lips were turning white.
Sherie Titchenell, 35, was arrested on December 9th by the Fayetteville Police Department for Death of a child by Parent, Guardian, or Custodian and Child Neglect causing death.
The following day, Raylee's father, Marty Browning, 34, and his partner, Julie Dawn Titchenell, 36 year old sister of Sherie, turned themselves in to the Oak Hill Police Department and were arraigned for Death of a child by Parent, Guardian, or Custodian and Child Neglect causing death as well.
The bond for all three has been reportedly set at $100,000. At the time of this writing, Browning is the only name that still comes up in a search of the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility inmates.
According to information that has come out as a result of the nearly year long investigation, Raylee was identified as a target of Sherie, who was identified by another child living in the home as the primary caregiver, because she was not one of Julie's children.
One matter on which the stories told by all three adults matched was in stating that Raylee evidently had a history of self-mutilation which started when she was about two years of age. Perhaps coincidentally, that was about the time that Sherie also entered her life. Julie went on to say that Raylee had once broken her femur after kicking a wall one night. A doctor stated in the complaint that as a result of that break, which is often a sign of child abuse, Raylee's growth seems to have been stunted from the age of six.
Between 2011 and her death in 2018, Raylee was hospitalized for various injuries. Before she was pulled out of school to be home schooled, teachers in Nicholas County repeatedly made referrals to Nicholas Child Protective Services. Eventually the family moved to Fayette County. Part of the ongoing investigation is attempting to find out what, if any, investigation was conducted by the agency.
Living in the home at the time of the alleged abuse were Julie's three children. One of them is reported to have spoken with a therapist about what she witnessed at the home, and her statements were included in the criminal complaint.
She is reported to have said that it was common for Sherie to withhold food from Raylee and that she went so far as to forbid Raylee from even eating at school where the girl had requested additional food from the staff. She also stated that Sherie had instructed the girl to lie to social workers. Out of fear, Raylee complied.
The girl stated that both she and Raylee were pulled out of school and home schooled when Sherie could think of no more lies to tell to cover up the abuse.
The girl said that the adults would beat Raylee with belts, spoons, and metal objects. She reported that one day, as punishment, they "grounded" Raylee for three days from drinking water. The girl reported that she had found Raylee drinking from the toilet in desperation. The girl believed it was that desperate act that led to an infection which ultimately claimed Raylee's life.
A medical examiner's report stated that an infection leading to sepsis was most likely the primary cause of death. The examiner reported though, that Raylee may also have been a victim of medical abuse as well as she was on seven prescription medications at the time of her death. According to the report, many of them were used to treat mood disorders or severe autism.
Their next court date is unknown at this time.