Warrants detail trouble before 15-month-old’s January death Evidence, DNA collected but no one charged yet
Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2014
Kannapolis Police investigators describe a filthy Kannapolis apartment where they say 15-month-old Malaya Faith Heun lived before her Jan. 22 death. Authorities believe her death was the result of physical and sexual abuse.
Search warrants released this week detail how officers found alcohol at the home and collected other evidence at 2508 Running Brook Drive. The warrants were issued Jan. 20, just two days before the child died.
A Post reporter made several attempts to reach out to Malaya’s mother, Christy Heun, for comment. She did not respond. Attempts to reach Jamie Heun, Malaya’s father, were unsuccessful.
Malaya was taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with extensive trauma that hospital officials say included seven broken ribs, bruises, a displaced clavicle and torn intestines. She also had vaginal and rectal damage, warrants say.
In the warrant, police Sgt. J.R. Smith requests DNA including skin cells, hairs, blood, and any biological specimens be collected from those that were in the house the day Malaya was taken to the hospital. Other warrants issued by the police department have collected DNA evidence from others in the house, including children.
The warrants say evidence was collected and is pending test results for the presence of DNA. The warrant further states the DNA profiles of other household members were necessary to “eliminate that profile.”
Police requested a search of John Travis Turner, 30, who they say was at the home along with Alisha Carlisle, the sister of Christy Heun.
The warrant says Malaya was in the care of both Turner and Carlisle before she was taken to the hospital.
Turner was arrested a few days before the child’s death on unrelated matters. Records indicate Turner was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police have not named a suspect and officials have not charged anyone in the case.
Other warrants say Carlisle was at the apartment with her fiance, but do not list the fiance by name.
Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis said he was not sure if Turner was Carlisle’s fiance. Family members also say they don’t know Turner’s connection.
Christy Heun has said she thinks she knows who hurt her daughter, but couldn’t believe that person would do it.
Heun also told the Post she was cooperating with police.
In the warrant, detective Smith says investigators located three bottles of alcohol and secured all baby bottles and spill-proof cups for further testing. He also secured a urine-soaked diaper with a “large amount of blood in it.” The warrant said evidence of heroin use was also collected.
A warrant dated Jan. 20 listed a number of items that were seized from the apartment, including five liquor bottles, three pill bottles that contained various medications, a safe with drug paraphernalia and paperwork inside, six flash drives, two laptop computers, two fitted sheets, a child safety sheet and three bottles and cups.
Investigators spoke with a sexual assault nurse examiner who examined Malaya at the hospital. The nurse said she’s collected more than 100 sexual assault examinations throughout the past 10 years. The nurse also said this was one of the “worst substantiated sexual abuse cases that she has seen,” the warrant said.
The nurse said in her professional opinion, Malaya Heun had been “severely sexually assaulted.”
Chavis said he has been in talks with the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office. He wants to make sure his department has a strong case. He has said his department has sufficient evidence, but officials are being cautious before taking the case further.
Lori Moore Hall, the great-aunt of Christy Heun, said she hasn’t spoken to Heun.
She suspects Christy Heun is still in shock, but Hall said she isn’t sure why she’s kept relatively quiet.
“I know it hurts, but somebody’s got to speak out,” Hall said.
Hall said she hopes that by speaking with media, she’ll keep the child’s name out in the public and on the hearts of people who read about her.
Christy Heun has said she received a call while at work from her sister, saying she needed to return home because there was something wrong with Malaya.
The child was taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. That’s when law enforcement received a call regarding a child abuse complaint.
Hall also hopes if she can share information about Malaya, it may discourage someone from abusing a child.
When asked if she has her suspicions about who may have abused Malaya, Hall said she believes Carlisle and her fiance know who is responsible.
“I want justice served to the most they can do,” she said from her Kannapolis home.
She described Malaya as a happy baby who always smiled.
She initially created a prayer page for her niece, but she turned it over to someone who could regularly update it.
Hall admits her family isn’t that close knit, but she still cares about the outcome of the case and wants an arrest made.
Another family member who asked not to be named said she and other members have one common goal — to “find out who did it.”
The relative also said Malaya was a “sweet little girl.”
“It’s hard knowing that we will never see her again. What time she had here on earth, she touched people,” the relative said.
She urges people including family members to be patient while awaiting forensic test results.
“People need to realize forensic tests have to be run in a state lab. There are other cases before this one,” she said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.