Navy chief petty officer charged in child's February death

Jerome Edward Hughs

A Navy chief petty officer has been charged with murder in the February death of his 17-month-old niece.

Kaidence Alexander died at Georgia Regents Medical Center on Feb. 27 from internal injuries. According to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office incident report, the toddler had been taken by ambulance from her home on Banbury Place in Hephzibah five days earlier.

Medical staffers told police the child had possibly been asphyxiated, resulting in brain swelling. She also had several broken ribs and two hemorrhages on the brain, which were determined to be old injuries.

The girl’s uncle, Jerome Edward Hughs, 36, who is a chief petty officer and attached to Fort Gordon, was charged Tuesday after a grand jury determined there was enough evidence in the case to obtain an arrest warrant, Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said Thursday.

Police said Hughs and his wife had custody of the child at the time of her injuries.

Although the case was quickly determined to be a homicide, Chew said it took several months of investigations to make charges against the suspect.

“In cases like this we have to go back and find out a history,” he said.

Investigators collaborated with the state crime lab, doctors and other agencies to determine the age of the injuries, determine anyone who had contact with the child during the time and interview family members or potential witnesses.

Other children were in the home at the time of the injuries but authorities don’t believe they were harmed.

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