Family of slain Fargo toddler speaks out
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The family of a toddler who police say was killed by a family-friend is speaking out for the first time tonight.
15-month-old Meka was pronounced dead on Nov. 20 after spending four days on life support.
37-year-old Brandi Adeleke is currently behind bars at the Cass County Jail charged with one count of murder and one count of felony child abuse.
“What did my niece do to you, but love you? She loved you so much. What did she do to you to make you so mad? And why didn’t you bring her home? When did you stop loving her?” Amanda Carillo, Meka’s aunt and primary caregiver said.
Carillo has had primary custody of Meka since she was born. She says the bubbly and loving toddler was more like a daughter.
“She was a good baby. There was no reason why she… She loved hugs and kisses. She would give hugs and kisses all the time,” Carillo said.
Carillo says family-friend of over five years, Adeleke, asked to have Meka for a Halloween sleepover at her south Fargo apartment, which Carillo said she OK’d. Carillo says Adeleke had been watching Meka, as well as Carillos children for many years and said Adeleke was considered very trustworthy.
“You never know, or think this is going to happen to you,” she said.
Carillo says at the end of the weekend when Meka was expected back home, Adeleke stated her home was infected with COVID-19 and Meka would have to quarantine with her.
Carillo and Fargo Police would later learn this was a lie.
“I just keep wanting to wake up and hope it was all just a nightmare,” Carillo said.
Carillo says when Adeleke came over on Nov. 20, she knew something was wrong. Carillo says Adeleke was calm when she told her Meka was in the hospital, so Carillo says she assumed it was due to COVID-19.
“I get to the hospital, and it was like walking through a crime scene,” Carillo said. “It was like what you only see on TV. I saw the rulers that you measure bruises on. I looked at Brandi and said, ‘What did you do to my niece?’ And she said, ‘She’s just sick! She’s just sick, Amanda. She’s fine. She’s going to be fine!’ And I said, ‘This doesn’t look like fine!’”
Fargo Police say an autopsy revealed numerous blunt force injuries on Meka. Court documents say Adeleke gave the child a bath, but left Meka unattended and Meka went under water for an unknown but brief amount of time.
“First off, how high did you have the bath water? Second off, my niece knew how to sit down, she was already over a year. So I don’t believe that, not even a little bit,” Carillo said.
Documents also say Adeleke admitted to pinching and slapping Meka’s face when she was unresponsive in an effort to wake her up.
“Anger, frustration. Why? Why is this person that we trusted my daughter with, why did they do this to her?” Meka’s father, Manuel Carillo said in a phone interview.
“I’m glad she’s behind bars and I hope she never sees the light of day again. I hope she thinks about this for the rest of her life and I hope it tortures her,” Amanda said.
The Carillos say they are planning a public memorial for Meka within the next few weeks. The family still has a GoFundMe active to help with medical bills, you can find it here.
Adeleke is being held on $1 million bond.
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