WARWICK, R.I (WPRI) — Willow Ramos’ short life ended Tuesday night, when Warwick Police say she was found unresponsive by her mother in the family’s Airway Road home and later pronounced dead at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
The 7-month-old baby’s father, Ryan Beeley, was formally charged Wednesday with cruelty to or neglect of a child, a felony that carries up to three years in prison.
While police continued their investigation into the infant’s death, the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families disclosed that the family had been twice investigated after being reported to the DCYF.
“We can confirm previous involvement with the family where we twice investigated concerns communicated through our Child Abuse Hotline,” a DCYF spokesperson said Wednesday. “Upon investigation, in both cases, we concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated. The family was not formally involved with DCYF as a result of the unsubstantiated findings.”
In at least one of those cases, Warwick Police said they were called by Ryan Beeley himself to inform the police that his family members were at the home and questioning the parents’ ability to care for Willow. She was six weeks old at the time.
“They had some concerns as to the suitability of the parents,” Major Brad Connor said Wednesday. He said the police found no issues when they responded to the home, and referred the case to the DCYF.
Separately, the state’s Office of the Child Advocate announced Wednesday it is adding the recent death of a 7-month-old baby to its current caseload, though it did not specifically name Willow. That independent agency, which describes itself as a watchdog over the DCYF, is currently reviewing four child deaths and two near-deaths. The panel will issue a report and make recommendations to better protect children after the review.
Warwick police have not disclosed what alleged actions or inactions were committed by Mr. Beeley to warrant the neglect charge. Police said Willow was found in a bedroom and did not have any visible injuries. An autopsy was slated to be performed Wednesday to determine Willow’s cause of death.
Police said the home was in “relatively deplorable condition” when police responded, and also had code violations. Housing officials have been asked to assist police with evaluating the home’s condition, Major Connor said.
Neighbors said they watched the paramedics rush the baby out of the house Tuesday night.
“I heard a woman scream ‘help, come here, we’re over here,'” said John Ritchie, who lives across the street. “They were probably in the house for a minute, maybe 30 seconds…I saw them holding what looked like a baby, like a bunch of stuff in their arms and they just ran out of the house and into the ambulance,” Ritchie said.
Other neighbors with their own children or grandchildren were troubled by the revelation that the infant’s father had been criminally charged.
“I’m horrified, really,” Joe Rego said. “I just don’t see how anybody could do that to their child…you’re supposed to be their protector, not bring them harm.”
Beeley was arraigned in family court on Wednesday where he was openly sobbing as he faced the felony charge. A judge set his bail at $50,000 with surety, and he is due back in court in March.
Police said they are still investigating the case and more charges are possible.