BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (WBOY) — Two people were indicted during Upshur County’s May Grand Jury after two young children died last year, allegedly from abuse and neglect.
Thomas Cunningham, 27, of Buckhannon, was indicted for two counts of death of a child by a parent or guardian by child abuse, and Ciera Gillespie, 26, of Buckhannon, was indicted for two counts of child neglect resulting in death.
The pair was first charged in November 2022 after a 2-year-old child reported died in their care, and a 1-year-old was injured. At that time, a doctor at Ruby Memorial Hospital said that the child had died from “a traumatic injury consistent with ‘shaken baby’,” and that “the retinal injuries were the worst he had seen in 20 years.”
More than a week later, the 1-year-old also died due to injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to court documents. The charges were then upgraded to reflect the second death.
According to criminal complaints against Cunningham and Gillespie, Gillespie told law enforcement that she had left to go to the store and when she returned, the 2-year-old “was limp and blood was coming from his mouth and nose.”
Later, in a Dec. 1, 2022 statement, Gillespie told West Virginia State Police troopers that “she believed Cunningham was under the influence of a controlled substance by the way he was acting when she left the children in his care and custody,” according to court documents.