Last week, Chester Township mother Caira Ferguson showed police this photo of her 2-year-old daughter to prove she was a victim of identity theft, according to police. Now they're looking into filing child-abuse charges.
Ferguson, 21, who lives in the township's Toby Farms section, was taken into custody today on outstanding warrants, says Chester Township Police Chief Ken Coalson. But investigators believe any potential child abuse occurred in Nether Providence. Police there are interviewing Ferguson right now.
"She contacted us for an alleged identify theft and brought that picture," Coalson said. "When we looked at the picture, we were thinking to ourselves, 'Well, what you're showing us here, we want to look into that.'"
The photo of the girl was posted on MediaTakeOut.com and received 337,000 hits before it was removed, Coalson said.
“It's heart-wrenching," he said. "Even if it was a joke, even if they were just clowning around. Try taking the tape off. It does look like it was tightly wrapped. I'm sure she wasn't too happy.”
Update: Ferguson has admitted to taping her daughter to the chair and has been charged with unlawful restraint, endangering the welfare of a child and related offenses, according to Nether Providence police. She is awaiting her arraignment.
Update, 6:25 p.m.: Ferguson was arraigned this evening by video conference and is being held without bail, which is more typical of murder cases than child endangerment cases.
"I feel she's a danger to her child," said Brookhaven Magisterial District Judge Walter McCray. "Her lawyer can petition Media if they want bail. I don't do it very often, but she's going to jail."
Today's Daily News story. More coverage here and here.