KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The babysitter of an infant girl who died after being allegedly kicked by her mother, warned Child Protective Services about prior abuse allegations involving the 31-year-old facing a murder charge in her daughter's death, according to court records.
Coty Lyon, 31, was charged with second degree murder and child abuse Monday in the 2021 death of her 21-month old daughter Olivia Stripling, according to Kalamazoo County District Court records. Child Protective Services previously removed other children from Lyon's custody, according to Michigan State Police.
"I wanted to make sure Olivia was safe," Olivia's babysitter Melissa Bradley said.
Bradley called 911 on Aug. 7, 2021, when she found the infant unconscious while watching her, according to court documents.
Less than an hour earlier, Lyon kicked Olivia off of her bed causing her to hit her head on an end table inside her apartment on the 600 block of Bluebird Ct. in Portage Aug. 7, 2021, according to Michigan State Police.
Olivia died at the hospital the following day after suffering a significant skull fracture leading to brain bleeding, according to the infant's autopsy. The child's death was ruled a homicide.
Lyon told investigators she accidentally kicked Olivia who climbed into her bed while she trying to sleep, according to court records. The mother admitted she was frustrated due to a lack of sleep from being up for days using meth, police said.
Bradley was going to Lyon's apartment to take Olivia overnight to her home in Almena Township, according to court records.
"When I got there Olivia's head was swollen, really swollen. She was lying in bed with Coty and she was still sleeping. Olivia didn't want any of her food at all," Bradley told News Channel 3.
Bradley noticed Olivia couldn't chew her food on the ride to her home, police said.
Moments after they arrived inside the home, Bradley called 911 after she saw Olivia on the floor unconscious and having a seizure. Bradley said Olivia did not suffer the injury while in her care.
Michigan State Police Detectives conducted interviews with Lyon, her boyfriend and others who indicated Lyon admitted to kicking her baby girl, according to detectives.
Lyon's daughter told detectives her mother would get mad at her kids a lot and felt drugs were part of the problem, according to investigators.
Bradley said she watched Olivia over several months in 2021 and called CPS the first time she babysat in April 2021.
"The first time I ever watched her I called CPS. The bruises on her face and body, the marks, she had bite marks," Bradley said. There was a huge bulge on her head, it was always there.
Bradley documented Olivia's alleged abuse in pictures she sent to Child Protective Services, according to court records.
"By law, the department cannot release specific information about any Children’s Protective Services (CPS) investigation, including whether or not a family has a CPS history," according to Bob Wheaton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
"I had a case worker I would text with, but she didn't follow up. I was lost on what to do," Bradley said.
Lyon posted on social media in May 2021 to call out Bradley, who called CPS to report suspected sexual abuse.
"Melissa Bradley I'm calling you out, make sure you got the right info when you say my baby's been touched," Lyon said in the Facebook post.
Coty gave a variety of reasons for the abuse when confronted by Bradley, including that she sustained the injuries while playing with her brother, according to Bradley.
Lyon had three older children previously removed from her care following CPS investigations as of Aug. 2021, according to court records.
"I don't understand why it took so long to arrest her," Bradley said.
State Police detectives required additional follow-up and lab analysis before making an arrest, according to investigators.
Lyon is due back in court for a preliminary hearing Dec. 20 in Kalamazoo County District Court.
"Her mom had every resource to make sure her daughter would be safe," Bradley said.
Full statement from Michigan Department Health and Human Services Child Protective Services:
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is saddened by the death of baby Olivia and the death of any child. We offer condolences to everyone who loved Olivia. MDHHS is strongly committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all children. By law, the department cannot release specific information about any Children’s Protective Services (CPS) investigation, including whether or not a family has a CPS history.