BATH – Neighbors of Danielle Malcolm said Monday that she is a caring mother who cherished her 9-month-old daughter and never raised her voice.
Many of those neighbors joined in a candlelight vigil Sunday for Jaelyn Malcolm, who died Friday night at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Adults brought flowers and children brought stuffed animals, items that will be used to decorate her grave.
“She loved her daughter very much,” said Erika Hart, who lives next door to Malcolm in the Maritime Apartments in Bath. “She was always talking about her baby.”
Maine State Police, along with Bath police, are investigating the baby’s death. The staff at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick discovered injuries on the girl after Malcolm and her boyfriend, Benjamin McNeil, brought her to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. Thursday. The baby was transferred to Maine Medical Center, where she died the next day.
State police provided no further details Monday, but said early in the investigation that the baby was injured Wednesday night. State police spokesman Steve McCausland would not say who was at home with the baby when her injuries were first noticed.
“We have learned a considerable amount since we were called into this,” McCausland said. “Until this case is further along, we’re not releasing any additional information other than what has already been released.”
An autopsy was done Saturday by the state medical examiner, but no information about how the baby died has been released, said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.
According to the State Bureau of Identification, McNeill served 15 months of a six-year sentence for elevated aggravated assault on Jan. 20, 2007, and was ordered to pay $23,000 in restitution.
He also served 15 months for a felony charge of domestic violence assault for an incident on Dec. 31, 2008. The record says he had prior convictions for domestic violence.
Because he was on probation from the earlier felony conviction, the assault charge violated that probation and he was returned to prison on Jan. 23, 2009, for two years and nine months, according to his criminal record.
He is due to remain on probation until June of 2014.
Malcolm has no criminal record.
Nobody was at Malcolm’s apartment Monday, and neither Malcolm nor McNeill, who moved in with her about a month ago, responded to messages left on their social media pages.
Malcolm and McNeil had been dating for about two months; their Facebook pages indicate they were in a relationship dating back to April 26.
Hart, the neighbor, said Malcolm was thrilled that McNeill cooked and cleaned and watched Jaelyn and Malcolm’s 2-year-old son, Colton, while she worked at McDonald’s, a job she started a month ago.
“He doted on her. She thought she found a really good guy. They were still in the honeymoon phase,” Hart said.
Hart said McNeill seemed like a “decent guy” but Colton seemed afraid of him. She said the child was naturally timid and may have had trouble adjusting to a man in the house.
Hart said she didn’t recall anything unusual Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and heard nothing unusual from Malcolm’s apartment, even though the walls between the units are thin.
“You can hear babies and stuff, kids crying all day and night long,” Hart said.
“I’ve never heard any crying coming from that house and that’s very unusual here,” said Bethel Thomas, who lives a few apartments away.
Thomas said Sunday’s vigil, attended by about two dozen people, brought back memories of her own misfortune. Twelve years ago, she lost a baby to sudden infant death syndrome, she said.
Louann Coffin, another neighbor, remembered Jaelyn as an exceptionally cute baby, “very nice and quiet,” she said.
Since Friday, Malcolm has posted her thoughts about her baby’s death on her Facebook page.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: