Hidden Camera Confirms Worst Fears
Whitney and Chris Matney were shaken to the core when their baby girl Raylee started having screaming and crying fits and sleeping much longer than usual. Whitney eventually used a hidden camera which finally revealed the shocking cause of Raylee’s problems.
When Chris and Whitney first brought little Raylee home from the hospital, it was a blissful time. Raylee was truly a bundle of joy to the couple, as she was healthy, vivacious, and cheerful. The Springdale, Arkansas couple spent almost all their time, it seemed, taking care of Raylee, but it was their pleasure, despite the waking up in the middle of the night. Soon, though, Whitney had other responsibilities that beckoned her, which presented a problem to the family.
Woman Of The Law
As if raising a child was not time-consuming enough, Whitney was also attending law school. When it came time for her to hit the books, get her highlighters out, and study her legal documents, she needed to make sure young Raylee had someone to take care of her. Since Chris was also a busy guy, they were left to look for a nanny. This decision ended up changing the lives of all the members of the Matney family drastically.
Looking For Mary Poppins
It would be great if Mary Poppins could descend from the sky with her magic umbrella to take care of your kids. However, real life is not like that, sadly. Hiring a nanny is serious business; background checks are a must, as you are entrusting your precious child to a stranger. Childcare expert Susan Tokayer says, “you really can’t do too much to confirm that you’re hiring the right person … You need to do a diligent background check and digital digging.”
Worst Case Scenario
In unthinkable cases, hiring the wrong nanny can ruin a family. There have been huge mistakes made in the hiring process, and callous, criminal people slip through the cracks. Sadly, this can lead to nannies stealing from the family, neglecting the children, or even worse, unspeakable sins. To avoid hiring a total stranger, Whitney posted on Facebook that she was looking for someone to take care of young Raylee. She got a response from someone she knew from her distant past….
The most promising Facebook friend who responded to Whitney was Melissa Medema, who was an old high school classmate. Still, Whitney did her due diligence and did background checks on Medema. She even called several references of Melissa’s, one of whom gave a highly positive review. The reference “raved about her,” Whitney reported. When Melissa met Raylee, the tot “really seemed to take to,” Melissa. Satisfied on all fronts, Whitney decided to hire her fellow alum, feeling secure in her decision.
Passing The Baton
Although it was hard to leave her baby with a nanny, Whitney felt that she had done all she could do when it came to background checks. It was also a slight relief, as she had been taking care of her newborn non-stop for months and months in a row. It would be nice to finally hand the baton to someone else, someone who she had thoroughly checked. When Whitney came home from her first day, she saw that Raylee was still breathing, and everything was okay.
Hints Of Crankiness
However, not too long afterward, however, Raylee started acting strangely. It seemed that baby Raylee was having a bad bout of crankiness, as Melissa’s arrival to the house always made the tot act out. Raylee would see her nanny, and then run to hide behind her mom or dad and cling to them. Not only that, Raylee would scream and cry. It makes sense, as it is hard for any child to be left with someone who they do not know, especially at such a young age.
Whitney chalked up the screaming and crying up to what is called “separation anxiety.” It usually occurs in kids, between the ages of 6 months and three years. Raylee fit in this category, and also she had the symptoms. This was nothing to worry about, though, as it is seen by medical professionals as a part of normal development, as long as it does not last past age three. This put Whitney at ease for a while, until new information came to light.
For a little bit, everything seemed to be going okay, more or less. Raylee was suffering from a bit of separation anxiety (or so it seemed), which Whitney eventually thought was normal, as she herself, while she was away on campus in the library, suffered from separation anxiety of her own, being away from her child. Whitney knew though, that finishing her degree would not only give her satisfaction but make for a better life for her little child. However, a new worry quickly arose.
Just as Whitney was about to accept that young Raylee was going through a normal phase, a new piece of information made her raise an eyebrow and worry. Melissa had told her that baby Raylee was taking naps that spanned four hours in length. This was something totally new to Whitney, who had only ever seen Raylee nap for one hour at a time- tops. This made Whitney worry, as perhaps Raylee had a medical issue that needed to be dealt with.
Since the latest checkup that Raylee had did not reveal any problems- thankfully she was a healthy baby- Whitney’s suspicions turned towards Melissa. Why was it that all these issues began right after Melissa was hired? Was it a coincidence? Or was there something deeper going on? The level of separation anxiety that Raylee was experiencing seemed extreme to Whitney. If only she was not so busy at law school, Whitney could just take care of her baby herself. Instead, she used a somewhat sneaky trick.
Can’t Drop In
It used to be that towns were small enough that you could go home for lunch in your own kitchen, and also take time to check in on the kids and the nanny. Now, with the expansion of cities, suburbs, and all-consuming careers, it is impossible to do a little drop-in like that anymore. If Whitney could have done that she would have, but the reality of the world we live in prevented that. Instead, she did something some would see as a sneaky move.
Whitney felt mixed emotions about what she was going to do, and felt torn. Eventually, though, as a mother, she decided that solving the mystery of what was causing Raylee’s strange behavior and fixing it was the most important thing to her. Whitney set up a hidden camera, which is sometimes called a “nanny cam.” This way, despite the fact that she could not come home physically to check in on her baby during lunch, she could get the full picture of what was happening with Raylee and Melissa.
Hidden In Plain Sight
The nanny cam that Whitney got was disguised as a fully functioning clock-radio. No random observer would ever look twice at it. In fact, since you can check the time on your cell phone, people might not even look once at it! As it turned out, it was not exactly as well hidden as Whitney would have liked. Still, the camera was fully functional, and Whitney anxiously awaited her law classes to be over so she could go home and see what was happening to her baby.
Pang Of Panic
When Whitney finally came home, she threw down her bag and keys in a rush, and then she curtly dismissed Melissa. Whitney made sure that Raylee was okay. Raylee was stable, and Whitney put her in a playpen nearby to keep an eye on her. While Raylee was occupied, she rushed to find the nanny cam, and what she saw immediately caused a pang of panic in her chest. The “clock-radio” had been turned around, with the camera facing the wall.
Turned Around On Her
The hidden camera was on the front of the clock-radio, and now it was facing the wall, presumably filming nothing. How long had it been like that? How did Melissa know? Did Melissa realize she was being spied on? Certainly, it seemed like she did, because why else would someone turn around a clock like that? Anxious to see what was on the recording (if anything at all beyond a video of the wall), Whitney scrambled to her computer.
When the video started playing, Whitney’s heart raced. The images she saw were so hard to watch, that “it didn’t sink in at first,” Whitney said, she continued that she, “couldn’t believe it.” There were many cardinal sins committed by Melissa that were so far away from the glowing recommendation Whitney had heard. There were two main wrongdoings, the first of which is terrible, but the second one is what really made Whitney know that the police had to be contacted.
First Of All
The first and least of the issues was neglect. The hidden camera showed that Raylee was left alone for two hours in a row in a jumper. This sort of neglect can leave a baby feeling extremely helpless, especially when their cries of hunger and loneliness are ignored. This is no different from simply leaving Raylee alone in a house, so why even hire someone? Also, ignoring a crying tot is simply heartless. However, the next part of the video was what made Whitney feel, “rage.”
Shaking And Spanking
The hidden camera captured Melissa doing something horrific. The nanny, who Whitney trusted with her baby’s wellbeing, violently spanked Raylee, perhaps to get her to stop crying. Even worse, she then moved Raylee onto her side, bit her lip, and vigorously and sharply shook her. This made the fragile infant wail in pain and feel awfully dizzy. No wonder Raylee would scream and cry when she saw Melissa come through the door. Whitney saw this and said: “I was filled with rage and fury, like I’ve never been before.”
Shaken Baby Syndrome
The first thing that jumped into Whitney’s mind when the rage subsided a bit was Shaken Baby Syndrome. This is a medical condition that is caused by shaking a baby. It can cause severe brain damage in just ten seconds of shaking. The whiplash affects babies more because their brains and skulls are soft. In extreme cases, the brain cells might start dying due to lack of oxygen and cause the baby to pay the ultimate price. Whitney immediately called the police and drove Raylee to the Emergency Room.
The doctors in the Emergency Room were just as concerned as Whitney, and began to run tests on Raylee, including an MRI to look into her brain, to make sure there was no gross damage to it. Whitney was panicked as she saw her baby, dressed in a medical gown adorned with tigers, with a blue hospital ID band, and thought about how she would get her revenge on Melissa. However, there was one issue- would Melissa ever be seen again? She did apparently find the hidden camera….
Looking back at the video, you can see the moment when Melissa looks askance at the “clock radio” and picks it up. It takes a creepy selfie of sorts, and then Melissa turns the camera around to face the wall. When Whitney first saw the camera turned away from the room, facing the wall, her, “heart leapt in [her] throat.” This meant Melissa somehow knew that it was a hidden camera, and that Melissa would perhaps skip town now that she had been caught shaking baby Raylee.
The police detectives probably also thought that Melissa would perhaps go into hiding. Maybe she even knew what the nanny cam looked like because she had been spied on before. Still, the officers came up with a plan just in case Melissa would show up to work the next day. The cops would hide outside near Whitney’s house, and they would wait for Melissa to drive up to the house. Whitney and Raylee were instructed to remain inside to keep them safe.
Shockingly, although Melissa seemed to know she had been recorded, she still showed up to nanny little Raylee! As Melissa’s white SUV pulled up to the Matney residence, the hidden plainclothes cops came out of their hiding spots and arrested the cavalier, abusive nanny on the spot. As Whitney and Raylee watched from a safe distance inside, Whitney told a worried Raylee soothingly, “she’s not coming in [the house], baby.” Melissa then had a chance to offer her side of the story.
Melissa’s Side Of The Story
Once news broke of what had happened to little baby Raylee, news outlets started getting interested in what Melissa had to say about all of this. ABC news staked out Melissa’s house, and waited for her to come home. When she finally appeared, ABC News reporters followed her, complete with camera crew, and asked: “can you tell us what happened in that video, Melissa? We’re here to get your side of the story.” Melissa briskly walked to her door, ignoring the reporters.
Melissa’s Message To Reporters
Paula Faris, the ABC News reporter asked Melissa “do you think that was child abuse?” as Melissa quickly dashed into her house. They thought that would be the last they heard from her, but Melissa did finally speak out, calling the news correspondent. She forcefully said that she did not “appreciate” the fact that the reporters came to her house unannounced, and that she does not want to be contacted by any ABC News reporters ever again. Later on, in court, Melissa had a surprisingly lenient outcome!
Lenient And Surprising
The police officer praised Whitney for immediately calling them, as he told her that, “I think if you hadn’t caught this when you did, you would have come home and had no baby anymore.” However, there was some bad news. Since Melissa did not technically cause any physical damage (according to doctors), she could only be charged with what is called a class D felony, which has a surprising consequence that was simply unacceptable to Whitney. She rolled up her sleeves as a new lawyer and did something surprising.
Clean Slate For Melissa
Whitney, who is now a lawyer, understood that Melissa being charged and convicted of a Class D felony meant that if she struck a plea deal, the consequences might be pretty lenient. Melissa did, in fact, strike a deal, and she got three months in jail and three years probation. The crux was that after those years, Melissa would be able to expunge her record, and have a clean slate. Then, perhaps, another unwitting child might be put in danger, as no background check could find this crime.
Whitney was infuriated. Just because Melissa had no previous record, she was able to escape with what Whitney considered a slap on the wrist. As a woman of the law, she decided to look for ways to make sure there was a permanent scarlet letter on Melissa. What Whitney found was there was a registry online for certain crimes, but there was no national registry for child abusers. If there was one, parents could use this as a tool to do background checks that check even expunged records.
Lobbying The Government
As a lawyer and concerned parent, Whitney has been passionate and relentless about pushing a bill through to become a law. This law would establish a registry of child abusers. ” Whitney says that “Arkansas will be the first state to have one, if it passes,” and she wants, “all of the states to adopt it. What I want is for anybody who has been criminally convicted of child abuse … be listed on that registry so that parents can check before they leave their children,” with a stranger.
Happy And Healthy
While the wheels of the government slowly turn, Whitney is relieved and grateful to report that Raylee is “happy and healthy.” Although this was a horrific period in this family’s life, thankfully, Raylee is doing well. Although it would have been better to avoid this whole episode completely, Whitney now is passionately working to stop this from happening to other vulnerable parents. Hopefully, the law passes, and there will be meaning for all the suffering the Matney family went through.