Martinez woman charged in death of child

Special
Lowanda Concettes Tripp told police the child was acting "strange."

Columbia County authorities arrested on Tuesday a Martinez woman suspected of killing a toddler she was babysitting.

Lowanda Concettes Tripp, 39, of the 1500 block of Avery Landing, was arrested at about 2 p.m. and charged with murder. Police said she is accused of killing 22-month-old Teaira Michele Hall of the 1800 block of Hill Drive at Fort Gordon.

Authorities were called to Avery Landing Sunday evening in response to a report that the child wasn't breathing. At the time of the call, she was in Ms. Tripp's care, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Columbia County Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison pronounced Teaira dead later that night at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Coroner Vernon Collins said.

The preliminary findings of an autopsy performed Monday at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta showed that Teaira suffered "multi-traumatic head injuries," Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Collins was unsure Tuesday how Teaira sustained those injuries.

Ms. Tripp told police that the child was acting "strange" and was "throwing a fit," according to a police report.

A deputy noted in the report that Ms. Tripp rode with Teaira in an ambulance to Doctors Hospital, where the child was treated before she was transferred to MCG.

Ms. Tripp's neighbor told police he was outside Sunday evening when he saw Ms. Tripp in her front yard holding the toddler in her arms. He said Ms. Tripp told him the child wasn't breathing, and he brought them both inside his home and called authorities.

A phone message left for the neighbor Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Capt. Morris said Ms. Tripp had watched Teaira on numerous occasions.

Teaira's mother, Antoinette Hall, and Ms. Tripp knew each other through work, he said. Ms. Hall is in the Army, and Ms. Tripp is a civilian employee at Fort Gordon.

No bond had been set for Ms. Tripp.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 863-6165 or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.