On the eve of 17-month-old Kaitlynn Hill’s funeral, her family gathered to talk about her death and to warn other young women to be cautious when leaving their children under the watch of someone else.
“Young mothers, be aware of the men y’all have your kids around,” said Maxine Scott, the little girl’s maternal grandmother. “Parents, be near your kids and watch your kids.”
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Kaitlynn, nicknamed “Kay-Kay,” died Thursday at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital from injuries she received in what appears to be a shaken-baby syndrome death. She was taken to the hospital May 23 with extensive bruises on her body and a brain injury, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Antwan Lydell Gaddist, 32, has been charged with murder in Kaitlynn’s death. He is at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, where he was booked last week on child abuse charges. His bail was set at $75,000, but a new bail hearing for the murder charges will be held this week, authorities have said.
Gaddist was watching Kaitlynn and her twin brother, Kaleb Hill, while their mother was at work, the Sheriff’s Department reported. Kaleb was not injured.
Kaitlynn’s mother, grandmother, aunt and nearly a dozen other family members talked about Kaitlynn’s short life Monday before they attended her viewing at the funeral home. Her funeral will be at 1 p.m. today at Bostick-Thompkins Funeral Home. A memorial fund has been established at Wachovia to benefit her twin.
The family thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for Kaitlynn before she died.
“They did all they could for Kaitlynn,” said her aunt, Robin Hill-Davidson. “It was as if Kaitlynn was their own child.”
The little girl was dedicated to Christ by the Rev. Charles Jackson Jr. of New Laurel Street Missionary Baptist Church before her death, Hill-Davidson said.
Kaitlynn was the bold one in the set of twins, Hill-Davidson said. She had an independent streak and always smiled like she was ready for fun. Scott called her granddaughter a “little go-getter.”
“She had such a beautiful smile,” Hill-Davidson said. “It just makes no sense to be taken so abruptly.”
Robert Hill Jr., the father of Kaitlynn and Kaleb, held his son and cried while the other family members talked.
“If you have kids and you love them, then you know how I feel,” Hill said.
Kaleb already misses his sister, the family said. He has pointed at her picture a couple of times and is more withdrawn and clings to his father and mother, they said.
Miesha Miller, Kaitlynn’s mother, said she had known Gaddist for nearly 14 years, and they had one child, now age 13, together.
She warned other women to be careful when leaving their children under the watch of others.
“He just messed up my whole life,” Miller said.