Whitney and Chris Matney adored their little girl. They were devoted to her every move and were with her much of the day, as new parents usually are. As such, they immediately noticed when their daughter started acting strange. She was not acting like her normal, sweet self and they could not figure out why. In order to get to the bottom of what could be happening to her little girl, Whitney took action and decided to put up a hidden camera in the house, she knew that it was not something that was the norm for her little girl like hunger, being tired, or having a dirty diaper. The cameras around the house recorded everything that was happening throughout the day. Some things were normal, but there were others that she did not expect to see.
After watching the video, Whitney and Chris were immediately shocked by what the video revealed. Nothing could have prepared them for the video's content as every parents worries about their child and their well being more than anything else. The Matney couple and their little one were just a regular family before they decided to record their home happenings, we are sure this will make you think twice as well.
1. A Healthy Little Girl
In 2011, Whitney and Chris from Springdale, Arkansas welcomed a new addition to their family. Whitney gave birth to Raylee, a healthy and adorable baby girl. After the new little family adjusted to their new life, it was time for Whitney to resume her dream of finishing law school.
It is always difficult for a working mother to separate from her daughter for the first time and entrust her in the hands of a care giver. In Whitney’s case, what should have been a difficult transition became a complete nightmare!
2. Finding A New Nanny
Whitney tried to be a diligent as possible when it came to searching for a nanny. She took all precautions possible to make sure Raylee got the care she deserved. Thinking that appealing to friends would be the safest option, she posted the position on Facebook.
She received a message from former high school classmate, Melissa Medema, who wrote her that she’s very interested in the position and would like to meet. Whitney was happy to give her consideration, after all Medema had an edge on the other candidates, being that the two attended high school together.
3. How Safe is Safe?
There is no certified way of making sure that you’re hiring the right nanny. Some people make good first impressions, but are lousy at their jobs.
Some might have glowing recommendations, but recent events in their lives have rendered them incompetent or even dangerous.
4. Nightmare Nannies
There are countless stories about nannies who stole, seduced the husbands, abused the children, and in some horrible cases, even committed murder.
Every once in a while, a nanny nightmare story surfaces on the news. But no parent really thinks that one day such a tragedy might happen to his or her own family.
5. First Encounter
Whitney did what she could by hiring a Facebook friend so she had access to her personal profile. Then she called Melissa’s reference, who gave her a glowing recommendation.
And as a final step, she invited Melissa to have a trial meeting with her daughter. The meeting went great so Whitney had no reason to think anything might go wrong.
6. The First Day
After many months of staying home and taking care of a newborn, any mother would be incredibly excited to go back out into the world.
Whitney was finally going back to pursue her dream of finishing law school. She experienced a lot of anxiety since she was leaving her baby Raylee for the first time. Whitney and Chris trusted Melissa with their precious baby girl.
7. That’s Peculiar…
When the parents came back that day, everything seemed just fine. All their anxiety was for nothing; Melissa had done her job, the house was standing and in good shape, Raylee seemed healthy, and the earth did not stop spinning.
However, later that evening, Raylee acted in a peculiar way. When Whitney entered her room, she immediately started crying and screaming, as if the very notion of someone approaching terrified her.
8. What could it be?
Whitney did not know what to make of this at the time. It could be that Raylee just didn’t sleep well the night before and was tired, or perhaps she was getting sick. It was worrisome, for sure, but it might be circumstantial, it doesn’t necessarily have something to do with Melissa.
However, Whitney couldn’t help but fight the suspicion that Raylee’s shift in behavior had something to do with the sudden change in her life. Her mother was away for many hours a day and she had to get used to a stranger’s presence. Little did Whitney know what that presence really entailed.
9. Change in Habits
Next, Melissa reported to Whitney that Raylee is taking four-hour naps. This struck Whitney as highly uncharacteristic behavior, since Raylee never took more than an hour-long nap. She was a lively child, so what had made her so exhausted? Was she depressed?
When it comes to your child, your first born, you pay great attention to every little detail, habit, or mannerism. For Whitney, Raylee was the center of the world, and these little changes seemed grave to her. She couldn’t reconcile them and decided to seek outside help.
10. Separation Anxiety
To be on the safe side, Whitney took Raylee to the doctor, so as to make sure that there is no hidden physical cause to her behavior, that she’s not missing anything that’s causing her daughter pain.
The doctor examined Raylee and found nothing physically wrong with her. There was no reason to suspect that the child is getting sick or experiencing any sort of pain. After learning about the recent change, he suggested that perhaps little Raylee is just experiencing separation anxiety.
11. A Normal Phase
Separation Anxiety occurs when a baby or a toddler shows extreme anxiety at the prospect of a parent leaving, albeit for a little while. It commonly begins at around six months and reaches a high point between 10 to 18 months.
This anxiety usually manifests itself with the infant clinging on to the parents, crying and screaming in a panicked manner when the parent leaves, as well as experiencing sleep disorder. Was this the reason for Raylee’s behavior?
Sure, it was plausible that all these little things had to do with the separation. However, when next Raylee began to show behavioral symptoms that could be indubitably traced back to Melissa, Whitney could no longer overlook the possibility that the nanny might be to blame.
Every time Melissa would arrive to take care of Raylee, the latter would run to her parents and hide behind them. This was a major red flag. It’s either that Melissa’s arrival signaled Raylee that the parents were about to leave, or that Melissa just scared her. So what was going on?
13. What to Do What to Do
When it came to her child, Whitney wasn’t about to take any chances. There were too many red flags, something was wrong—and one way or another, she will find out what it was. And so, Whitney prepared a sting operation and wryly set a nanny cam in the living room.
It looked like just another run of the mill radio clock, but it had a camcorder inside and a little, almost unnoticeable lens on the side of the device. It was locked and loaded, ready to capture any unethical nanny behavior.
14. First Day on Nanny Cam
The first day in which Whitney used the camera was the last day that Melissa would ever work for the Matneys. What it caught was utterly horrific, criminal, and downright abusive.
The worried mother was shocked to her very core. The minute Whitney stepped into the house, she started trembling. The nanny cam that early that very day she had made sure was pointing towards the living room was completely turned around to face the wall. Did Melissa figure out she was being recorded?
15. Wildest Fears
Consumed with anxiety of what the device had recorded, Whitney rushed to her computer to view the material. In her wildest fears, she couldn’t conceive of the things poor Raylee had been submitted to all this time.
The innocent, defenseless infant was routinely abused by who turned out to be a monster nanny. Melissa, the old classmate with the glowing references, during one day of begin recorded, had committed a number of grave, abusive deeds.
16. Severe Neglect
As it turned out, Melissa had treated Raylee as if she weren’t a real live girl. To Whitney’s horror, the camcorder had captured Melissa leaving poor Raylee in her baby jumper for two straight hours.
The suffering this must have caused Raylee. All her needs ignored, thirsty, hungery, helplessly stuck in the same position for hours, while the nanny went about her business, paying no attention to the toddler in her care. But that was the least of her sins.
17. Violent Spanking and Shaking
Right in front of the nanny cam, Melissa was seen carrying Raylee in her arms and violently spanking her, apparently so she will stop her crying and screaming. But Raylee kept wailing from pain and panic.
Next, as an even more extreme measure to silence Raylee, Melissa was seen holding her at waist height and shaking her violently from side to side and in circles, until the shocked and dizzy infant stopped crying.
18. Shaken Baby Syndrome
There is actually a syndrome called Shaken Baby Syndrome which can have very serious consequences. At that tender age such jolts may cause inner brain damage that may not have obvious physical signs, but can instigate long term problems, and in some cases, even death.
When a baby is shaken it could cause tears in the brain, the nerves, or the blood vessels. Furthermore, if the brain clashes against the skull, this may cause swelling or bleeding. When this occurs, the child can become sluggish, can develop breathing problems, or get seizures. Seeing how the nanny treated Raylee, the terrified Whitney feared her baby might suffer from this terrible syndrome.
19. Emergency Room
Whiteny was outraged, hurt, worried. She rushed to her daughter and took her straight away to the emergency room, fearing the worse. After little Raylee went through extensive examinations, the doctors broke the news. Raylee was tougher than she looked.
There was no physical injury, at least not any that could be immediately detected. But Whitney still couldn’t calm down. What about psychological harm? How could a child get over such a trauma?
20. Contacting the Authorities
Her daughter was safe and she seemed OK for now, but the dangerous nanny was still at large. Whitney called the police and told them everything that had occurred. She arranged with the officers that they ambush Melissa the next time she comes to work, if she ever will.
After all, in the tape Melissa is seen picking up the nanny cam, looking straight into the lens, and turning it around to face the wall. She realized she was being recorded, and she knew what the recordings have captured. Maybe she just suspected it might be camera, but wasn’t entirely sure.
21. Police Ambush
The next working day arrived, and to everyone’s utter surprise—Melissa showed up. As if nothing had occurred, the brazen nanny thought she could just resume her job as if nothing had happened. However, this time she wouldn’t even get to see her victim.
As Melissa stepped out of the car, police closed in on her her and made the arrest. She was taken to the station straight away, but not before Whitney managed to take a shot of her arrest through the house window. Finally, Melissa would get what’s coming to her.
22. Good News Bad News
An officer who has viewed the recorded evidence of the abuse had told Whitney how lucky she was to have caught it when she did. He said that if Whitney wouldn’t have acted as quickly as she did, she might have come back home to an unalterable tragedy.
But Whitney received some bad news as well. Yes, she had caught the abuse in time, and yes, Melissa was in custody. To her dismay, though, she had learned that Melissa could only be charged with a Class D felony.
23. No Previous Record
Since it was Melissa’s first offense and she had no police record, she could only get the lowest felony charge, that of “endangering the welfare of a minor.” This charge meant that Melissa would never really pay for her crimes.
If found guilty, Melissa would only have to serve three months in jail and be submitted to a probation period of no more than three years. And the most disturbing thing about these bitter news, was that in three years Melissa would have her record completely expunged.
24. Research and Awe
Whiteny was furious. A ridiculous jail sentence, a short probation period, and an expunged record; did all this mean that in three years’ time Melissa could be free to resume her work as a nanny? Surely, there was a way to make sure she would never babysit again.
She began to research the subject, and what she found completely awed her. There was no national registry for child abusers, meaning that once the probation period was over, there was no way to assure that other families won’t hire her.
25. Speaking Out
The concerned mother felt that she had a responsibility here. She must do anything in her power to guarantee that it is widely known that Melissa is a child abuser, and that she will never have the opportunity to abuse another child ever again.
First she would make her story known and speak out publicly against Melissa, through whatever channel she could possible find. If she can get the media to spread the news, more and more people would know to be aware of Melissa.
26. A Larger Problem at Hand
However, was that really enough? Not everyone would get exposed to her story, no matter what kind of coverage she would be able to get.
And what about the larger problem at hand? If Melissa could go back to babysitting after getting caught red handed on camera, what did that mean for other child abusers? How many monster nannies were out there, free to commit horrible deeds?
27. Effecting Change
Whitney decided that a smarter solution must be found, one that encompasses the entire issue, not just her case specifically. So, she rolled up her sleeves and put her new law degree to immediate use. Whitney decided that a smarter solution must be found, one that encompasses the entire issue, not just her case specifically. So, she rolled up her sleeves and put her new law degree to immediate use.
She campaigned, she gathered supporters, and set out to change the reality in Arkansas, and then, who knows, maybe she could make a change on a national magnitude. This required a lot of patience and planning ahead.
28. Pushing a New Bill in Arkansas
“We’re going to send out a bill,” Whitney told an ABCnews reporter, “Arkansas will be the first state to have a registry if it passes. Everybody who’s been criminally convicted will be listed out there for everyone to see.” If this bill passes, this would mean a huge victory.
Not only will Melissa, who has caused immense trauma to Whitney’s family, never be able to nanny again, but also other child abusers would be prevented from harming children.
What occurred to the Matneys had happened many times before, and a lot of the times it did not end on a happy note. Whitney’s quick action and resourcefulness had stopped an utter tragedy from taking place. Melissa’s side of the story was never heard.
She refused to cooperate with the media or provide any explanations regarding her behavior. Her personality and motives will remain enigmatic to the public, but what’s for sure—she will never be a nanny again.
30. What About Raylee?
But what about little Raylee? Well, Raylee grew up quickly, healthy and adorable. She seems to have completely gotten over the horrible abuse she had suffered at the hands of a monster nanny.
You could see Whitney’s face lighting up as she tells ABC News reporter about her daughter: “She’s great. She is energetic, sassy, always smiling.” Even though psychological issues could always manifest later on, for now, Raylee seems to be A-O.K.