She said her daughter hit her head while going down a slide at Linwood Park early Tuesday afternoon.
But doctors at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph determined the 2-year-old girl’s injuries were not consistent with someone who had struck her head on a slide, so they alerted police. The girl died at Via Christ Hospital St. Francis at 5:41 a.m. on Wednesday, Lt. Todd Ojile said.
The mother’s boyfriend, who was with the child at the Linwood Park playground while her mother was in the park’s library, was arrested Tuesday night, Ojile said. Records show Sly Maples was arrested on suspicion of aggravated child endangerment, though the potential charge was changed to first-degree murder after the girl died.
A police document on the case cited “unusual injuries” to the child’s head, “including current and previous brain bleeds” and bruising around her neck. The Exploited and Missing Child Unit was alerted and launched an investigation.
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“She did have other injuries that we believe happened before yesterday,” Ojile said Wednesday. “We know that some injury had to occur at the park. The child was up and playing on the playground.”
However, by the time the three left the park’s playground at 1901 S. Kansas shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday, she was unconscious.
Police know of another head injury that the child suffered prior to Tuesday, Ojile said.
Maples and the child’s mother have been in a relationship for about three months, he said. They had lived together in Liberal until recently. She and her daughter moved to Wichita over the weekend to live with Maples.
The mother was not present when the child’s fatal injury occurred, Ojile said.
“There was some time that passed before the mother even came out” of the library, he said.
She found her boyfriend standing by a truck, with the child inside. They then went to the hospital.
The child’s 24-year-old mother posted a plea for prayers for her daughter on her Facebook page early Wednesday morning. Several hours later, she posted an update: “She is with Jesus now.”
The Kansas Department for Children and Families has no case history involving the child or the adults who are part of the incident, spokeswoman Theresa Freed said.
The allegations of abuse involving the 2-year-old are not the first against Maples in Sedgwick County.
District court records show a judge in 2013 granted a former girlfriend of Maples’ a protection from abuse order over allegations that Maples “choked me until I passed out” in December 2012. The woman, in the petition, also wrote that in the days after the choking incident, Maples had been “riding by my house and following me.”
Kansas Department of Corrections records show that Maples has convictions for aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery dating to 1997.
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle