Mother of Shaken Baby Warns Other Parents

A devastated mother is speaking out about the loss of her baby, after the little girl was allegedly killed by her babysitter.

It happened Thursday afternoon in Poplar Bluff.  Heather Hollis, of Neelyville, had left her six-month old daughter Starla with a family friend, 24 -year old Amy Davis.  Hollis needed to look for a job, and Davis had taken care of little Starla in the past.  But this time, the stay turned deadly for Starla.  Now her family wants other people to know what happened to her and how much it’s hurting them, in the hope that no one else will ever do the same thing to another baby.

“There was no reason at all for any of this to happen,” Hollis sobbed on Sunday afternoon.  “She was a great baby. Great. Beautiful. You couldn't ask for a better baby than her.” 

Her eyes sparkled like little stars, and that's what her family called her.  “Star.”  At six months old, Star Hollis was just beginning to shine: sitting up on her own, crawling, and showing off her new teeth in a constant smile.  “She was a very happy baby,” Heather Hollis tells Heartland News.  “Very playful.”  Hollis’ boyfriend, John Murray, couldn’t agree more.  “Star never cried. Never. If she whimpered, she was hungry or she needed a nap, and that was it.”

That's why Hollis and Murray just can't understand what happened on Thursday.  According to police, Davis claimed she had “lost her cool” when Star wouldn't stop crying, and shook the baby until she stopped breathing.  When Hollis arrived at Davis’ apartment to pick up her daughter, she was greeted with police cars instead.  She still can’t make sense of it.  “Why would she do that?” she tearfully begs to know.  “Why?  If she ‘lost her cool,’ since that's what she said, she could've laid Star down and went to another apartment and said, ‘Hey, I can't handle this,’”

But that's not what happened. Baby Star died, and Davis was charged with involuntary manslaughter.  Right now, she’s being held on a 25-thousand dollar bond, which Star’s family doesn’t think is nearly enough.  “You drink a beer and get behind the wheel of a car, and you’ll spend a year in jail, and have a fifty-thousand dollar bond,” says Murray, shaking his head.  “But you kill a child, you get 25-thousand dollars bond!  For two-thousand, five-hundred dollars, you can walk in and get her right out.”

Now Star’s family faces a holiday season filled with unanswered questions: questions about what went wrong and what might have been.  “I'll never get to hear her first word, or get to see her beautiful little smile again,” Hollis mourns.  “I’ll never see her first step, or first Christmas, or first date.”

Heather Hollis says all her “what-if's” come with a warning, not only about you who trust with your kids, but how you treat anyone's children.  Even your own.  “Everybody knows you don't shake a baby!” she stresses.  “Everyone!”  Murray puts a comforting arm around her and offers his warning to anyone who cares for children.  “It's not a normal human reaction to want to hurt a child,” he says.  “If you've ever thought ever for a second like that, get help.”

Star’s family says they plan to follow Amy Davis’ trial very closely, in the hopes of getting some of their questions answered.  Police say Davis’ first court date won't be decided until later this week.

Baby Starla's visitation is set for noon on Monday, at the Fowler-Sullivan Memorial Chapel in Neelyville.  Her funeral will be held at 2:30 the same afternoon.