Caregiver accused of starving Yakima teen to death charged with murder

YAKIMA, Wash. - A Yakima caregiver has been charged with murder after police say her neglect lead to the death of a 16-year-old girl entrusted to her care.

Darlina Ann Chilson, 45, appeared Monday in Yakima County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for what police say was an “extreme indifference to human life,” according to court documents.

Chilson was the legal guardian and caretaker for 16-year-old Kayce McDermed, who was quadriplegic and required extensive care — which Chilson received $4,000 a month from the state to provide, according to court documents.

Police say Chilson dropped Kayce off at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital — formerly just Memorial Hospital —in March 2016, suffering from what doctors said was one of the worst child abuse and neglect cases they’d seen in their careers.

Kayce had severe malnutrition, a severe lung infection, significant skin breakdown and the “worst possible pressure ulcers,” on her body, according to court documents.

Doctors told police that Kayce was in “horrific pain” and that the severity of her wounds indicated she had probably been laying in the same position for at least a month, court documents said.

At her last doctor’s visit at Yakima Valley Farmworker’s Clinic in September 2015, Kayce had weighed about 75 pounds; by March, she was down to just 45 pounds, which was less than she’d weighed as a six-year-old, court documents said.

Doctors told police there was no “natural medical reason except being starved” for her weight loss and that it was likely she’d “laid in bed unattended and unfed for long periods of time,” according to court documents.

Kayce was taken to Seattle Children's Hospital, where she died on May 2, 2016.

A doctor who’d been working with abused and neglected children since 1983  — tens of thousands of cases —  told police this was one of the worst cases she’d seen in her nearly 45-year medical career, court documents said.

Kayce’s primary care physician, upon learning of her death, told police it was “devastating” because she was “generally a very healthy girl” with several more decades left to live, according to court documents.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Kayce’s death a homicide following an autopsy, which found Kayce had died from numerous ailments stemming from neglect, including malnutrition and pneumonia.

Police say Chilson was nowhere to be found after leaving Kayce at the hospital and that doctors were unable to reach her to ask about the girl's medical history.

In court documents, police say multiple healthcare and service providers told investigators they’d repeatedly reached out to Chilson between 2012 and 2016 to offer her resources, as she “mentioned feeling overwhelmed,” but say she declined.

Kayce had previously attended East Valley High School before Chilson pulled her out in the fall of 2015. School officials told police they’d also offered Chilson assistance and that she’d refused, according to court documents.

One of Chilson’s relatives told police the caregiver had been using methamphetamine and that she “chose the drugs over caring for” Kayce, according to court documents.

The state began investigating Chilson in April 2016, after Child Protective Services filed a complaint against her “negligent treatment or maltreatment” of Kayce, according to state Department of Health documents.

State health officials say Chilson had been issued nursing assistant credentials in 1997, but that her license had since expired. Following an investigation, they charged Chilson with unprofessional conduct in February 2017.

In March 2017, state health investigators concluded Chilson, “cannot be rehabilitated, nor can she regain the ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety,” and permanently revoked her license, adding she would not be eligible to reapply.

A warrant for Chilson’s arrest was filed on April 4, 2019. She was arrested and booked into the Yakima County jail on Friday, where she remains in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Chilson is scheduled to appear in Yakima County Superior Court in late May for a bail hearing.

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