Many warning signs were ignored, and now a 7-week-old child is dead due to neglect

Crime

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) —Bay County Paramedics and Sheriff’s Deputies received a chilling 911 call on September 2nd, after family members discovered 7-week-old, Mckinlee Grace Garner dead inside of a hot car.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office incident report claims the child’s mother, Megan Dauphin, was high on meth and sexually pleasuring herself when her boyfriend’s daughter came in the room and asked her about the baby.  

The report goes on to state Dauphin said, ‘Oh my God,’ and ran to the car. But it was too late…

Little Mckinlee Grace had been inside of the car for nearly four hours.

After toxicology reports confirmed drug use the day of her child’s death, investigators arrested Dauphin on October 6th and charged her with aggravated manslaughter.

She’s pleading not guilty.

30-year-old Dauphin posted her $13,000 bond and was released from the Bay County Jail.

Since the tragedy, a number of people familiar with Dauphin and the child’s father, Michael Garner, say the warning signs were there.

Lynn Haven Police say Dauphin overdosed while driving, only 16 days after the baby was born. 

“We found Megan in the driver’s seat by herself and she was slumped over and we did sternum rubs, we did several things to try to wake her up but we just couldn’t. So we immediately started calling for an ambulance. We couldn’t smell anything, her foot was actually still on the break.” said Lynn Haven Police Chief, Ricky Ramie.

Officers say they administered Narcan, which is used to reverse an opioid overdose,  but that didn’t work either. Dauphin was eventually hospitalized, recovered, and sent home.

“We collected some white powdery substance and a clear liquid that was in a pill bottle. We ultimately sent that off to FDLE to try to determine what was in it because our presumptive field tests were not hitting on anything,” said Chief Ramie.

Police didn’t immediately charge her due to a lack of evidence at that time.

“If it would have done a presumptive test on the roadside, like a field test, then we would’ve charged her and stayed at the hospital, but we couldn’t get it to test. That’s not a drug we commonly see anymore, so we sent it to FDLE.” said Chief Ramie.

It turns out the powder and liquid was GHB, also known as scoop or the date rape drug.

Police say Dauphin has been a long time drug user for at least 12-years.

“If you pull up her bookings she’s had a long run in with narcotics yes.” said Chief Ramie.

She has a total of 7-drug related charges to date, including a marijuana and paraphernalia charge in June, when she was 8 months pregnant.

The baby’s father, Michael Garner is also well-known by local law enforcement.

Garner’s a two-time convicted felon with 8-drug related arrests and 16 different theft or burglary charges.

Garner is currently in jail facing drug trafficking and theft charges. That arrest came one month after the baby’s death.

All this leads some to ask why Dauphin and Garner still had custody of their 7-week old child….

Local law enforcement says there’s only so much they could’ve done to protect Mckinlee Grace from dying in a hot car back in September.

“We can only investigate to a certain point, but once those investigations come to a conclusion, there’s only so much within the limits of the law that we are allowed to take as far as progressive steps.” said Furniss.

That’s where the Florida Department of Children and Families is supposed to step-in. We contacted the agency about this case.

DCF Officials confirmed they had visited the home for a child welfare check, but refused to talk about any other aspect of the case.

Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Lori Allen believes the agency is still engaged in this case.

“The Department of Children and Families has their critical incident review teams that go around the state when a child dies as a result of abuse or neglect. They do convene and look deep into those cases to find out if there is anything that could have been done differently. What can we enact.” said Lori Allen.

The DCF website says this was the 6th child to die in Bay County this year alone– many with similar stories.

We contacted both Dauphin and Garner for their stories, but they too declined to talk.

‘Kids and Cars’ is a national nonprofit that advocates for children killed in cars, just like Mckinlee Grace. Director Amber Rollins says this tragedy was completely preventable.

“She’s going to have to live with this loss for the rest of her life and her family are trying to deal with it. I think let it be a lesson to all of us and try to make sure that people are taken care of so these things don’t happen.” said Amber Rollins.

No matter how many questions continue to surround this case, there is one undeniable fact. A 7-week old child is dead because of neglect, and no one is taking responsibility.

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