Whitney and Chris Matney suspected something was going on with their babysitter. They knew the woman, so found it difficult to ask her outright, but they had to know for sure what she was doing.
What Whitney would discover surprised not only her but the whole world. Whitney's intuition as a mother led her to find out the truth about her babysitter. She vowed to never let it happen again.
In 2011, the Matneys had a little baby girl. They named her Raylee. She was a perfectly healthy baby and the family was very keen to start a new life together in Springdale, Arkansas.
After a while, Whitney had to reluctantly leave her baby's side as she had to continue attending law school, which she began before she fell pregnant. She would have to be absent for hours at a time every day.
Chris realized that when he started to work again he'd also be out of the house. This meant that the couple would have to get someone to look after their little girl while they were gone. Whitney didn't want to give up her dream of being a lawyer and so they agreed it was what they'd have to do.
Whitney and Chris looked for a babysitter for little Raylee. What they couldn't have known is how much of a nightmare it would be once they hired one.
The Newest Application
Whitney wanted the best for her Raylee and the family, so she sifted through hundreds of applications. She was being very careful to find the right person when she noticed one application had a face that she recognized.
Her former classmate from high school saw her ad on Facebook and applied for the job. Whitney agreed to meet her since she was the only person she recognized in a sea of unfamiliarity. Her name was Melissa Medma.
The Screening Began
Whitney was still looking at other applicants because she really did want the best person for Raylee. When it was Melissa's turn to be interviewed, Whitney felt like she knew a lot about her since she took a look at her social media page. She even contacted Melissa's references.
All the recommendations told Whitney how great Melissa was in her previous jobs. Whitney had one last test for Melissa, she would have her meet Raylee and see how the two interacted. So far Whitney was happy with Melissa.
Their First Meeting
Things went well when Raylee met Melissa. Whitney watched as Melissa and Raylee hit it off immediately. This decided it for Whitney, she was very satisfied with Melissa.
With no reason to doubt Melissa's intentions, Whitney gave the job to Melissa with a smile.
Now Raylee had a babysitter, Whitney was keen to attend law school again since she hadn't been on campus in months. She still didn't feel entirely comfortable leaving Raylee alone even though Melissa would be there. When Melissa knocked on their door for her first day looking after Raylee, the parents said goodbye and left the house.
After they got back from their busy days, the house looked spotless and there were no signs of any mishaps. Raylee appeared to be her normal happy-baby self, but outward appearances can deceive.
Was Raylee Acting Strange?
Whitney then noticed Raylee suddenly change. But why was her behavior changing? Her mind raced through a checklist of reasons. Maybe Raylee was getting a cold? Maybe she had a hard time getting good sleep during her nap?
Whitney felt panicked but slowly calmed down. She never made the connection. Everything seemed fine when Melissa left earlier in the day. Whitney rationalized that Raylee just had to settle into having a babysitter. For now, she would swallow her feelings, but they would just continue to intensify.
Raylee Was A Different Child
The couple continued to go to work and school while Melissa was left with the baby. After getting home each day, Whitney noticed that Raylee was taking longer naps, nearly three more hours than normal. Whitney was trying to figure out why her baby was tired when she got home.
Because this was her first child, Whitney felt confident in knowing the traits of her daughter. She was worried so she took Raylee to the doctor to see if anything was up. The doctor said that she was perfectly healthy.
Whitney told the doctor that she started leaving Raylee alone after continuing her studies. She told the doctor how they hired a babysitter and he told her that it could be that Raylee didn't want to be without her mother. At about six months old, children can develop separation anxiety when the parents leave them for extended periods of time.
Separation anxiety can last up until the child is two years old. Even children without it will still be upset when their parents are gone. This can affect the child's sleep schedule to a degree. Whitney concluded this must be what was wrong with Raylee.
Whitney took the doctor’s advice to heart and decided that her daughter was just experiencing separation anxiety. Soon after, Raylee’s behavior changed again. Now Whitney started to believe Melissa had something to do with it.
Whitney wanted to observe more. She let a month pass and more red flags appeared. She decided that was enough and she had to get to the bottom of it.
Setting Everything Up
Whitney decided to install a nanny cam, which would provide visual evidence of the problem. She went out to get a normal clock radio which held the camera inside.
The lens was on the side of the radio and she positioned it where it could record everything. Desperate to find out the truth, she left the camera and set off for school.
The Final Day
Melissa arrived as planned and Whitney attended her classes. She wanted to see if her daughter was really experiencing separation anxiety.
What the recordings showed to Whitney and Chris when they both got home would fill them with regret. Raylee would not be seeing Melissa again.
Changing The Position
When Melissa left for the day, Whitney rushed over to the camera. She found that it was in a completely different position from where she left it. Melissa turns the nanny cam away into the living room.
It was facing the wall. Whitney grabbed the clock anyway hoping she would find some answers. She got a lot more than she thought she would with the cam. After a few months, Whitney finally got to see what her daughter was going through.
On the tapes, it was shown that Melissa was mistreating Raylee. She wasn't given proper nutrition and the babysitter wasn't at all careful with the way she carried her.
Was this the same Melissa that had rave reviews about her? Whitney was filled with emotion. She had to do something to put a stop to this once and for all.
After seeing the footage, Whitney decided to take her daughter to the hospital to get checked out. After the doctors ran some tests, the results came back showing nothing out of the ordinary. Raylee was a resilient and strong girl.
While Whitney was relieved to hear the good news, another thought came into her mind. She was worried about the psychological effects this might have on her child. Whitney was unable to calm down since she is a first-time mother.
Whitney and Chris had to report Melissa to the police. There was no way that she could let Melissa near Raylee or any other children again. They drove to the police station and filed a report.
With all of the evidence presented to them, the police were ready to take action. The officers decided to speak to her the next time she went to work at the family’s household.
Just a Normal Day
Melissa showed up the next morning as if nothing had happened. She was in for a rude awakening when the police were waiting for her as soon as she got out of her car. In front of the house, she was arrested.
Whitney, who was watching the entire ordeal outside her home, recorded how it went down with her camera. She knew that Melissa wouldn't be allowed to do this again.
From Bad to Worse
Since Melissa did not have a previous record, the felony she ended up getting was “endangering the welfare of a minor.” Receiving this charge meant that Melissa would not get a particularly severe punishment.
She would only serve a maximum of three months in jail and be placed on probation for three years. The worst part was that after her three years of probation was over, her record would be clean.
This Mom is Determined
Whitney was furious that Melissa could get away with this so easily. The soon-to-be lawyer started researching. She knew that Melissa would do this again in another three years if she did not stop her now.
First, she wanted everyone to know who Melissa was and what she did to her daughter. She decided to make the story known. The mother decided to contact the media and shared the details of the story.
Digging a Little Deeper
When researching, Whitney saw that she could go even further than the media. She had to get to the root of the problem to make sure that Melissa and people similar to her would never be around children again. Whitney got enough support to start campaigns across Arkansas.
After getting the awareness of the story needed, she tried to get people from around the country - and then the world - involved. Whitney was so inspired by what was happening with the movement that she sought to pass a bill.
Starting to Gain Momentum
When Whitney was interviewed by ABC News, she said, “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.”
After a long fight, the bill passed. This was cause for celebration for Whitney and everyone that believed in her bill. It meant that Melissa and people like her would never be able to be hired as someone’s babysitter/nanny again. The proof of her actions would remain on her record forever.
Does Melissa Have a Comment?
Sadly, Melissa refused to comment, despite being asked several times. No one but her will know why she behaved the way she did.
Even though her motives remain a secret, her record will follow her around forever. This gave Whitney some comfort.
Was Raylee Alright?
Thankfully, Raylee got her smile back and grew up to be a happy and healthy child! Her parents said that she seemed to get over the incident and they could not be prouder.
While you can never predict how a stranger will act around your child, there are ways to screen them that should allow you to get a good idea of their capabilities. This includes talking to past clients, reading reviews, and using reputable sites.