Owner of Speedway child care center pleads guilty in 2016 death of 10-month-old

Karen Tharpe (left) and Jacqueline Murray (Provided Photos/Marion County Jail)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The owner of a former Speedway day care center who pleaded guilty to child neglect has been instructed not to work in the child care field again, court records show.

Jacqueline Murray, 53, had a more serious charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death dismissed Thursday as part of a plea agreement with Marion County prosecutors. A one-year prison term was suspended Thursday during sentencing in Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division 5.

Murray and Miracle and Blessings Daycare employee Karen Tharpe both faced criminal charges in the death of 10-month-old Taliah Brigham of Carmel. A jury in August found Tharpe guilty of reckless supervision by a child care provider, and Tharpe is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday afternoon in the same court where Murray pleaded guilty.

Taliah Brigham (Photo Provided/Randall & Roberts Funeral Home)

On April 6, 2016, Murray left the daycare to pick up other children from school, leaving Tharpe as the sole caregiver for 36 children, prosecutors said. Tharpe, 56, told police she placed Taliah partially strapped into a car seat and left her unattended for about five minutes. Tharpe returned to find Brigham not breathing, she told police. Taliah died April 7, 2016, at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“The fundamental allegation here is that it’s thoroughly inappropriate to leave that many children in the care of one person,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told reporters during a news conference announcing the charges against Murray and Tharpe in August 2016. “I certainly would anticipate that every parent who would bring their child to a daycare center – any day care – would be appalled to find out that one person was left in charge of 36 children.”

Taliah’s father, Troyel Brigham, in August 2016 told I-Team 8 that he hoped those responsible would learn from their actions.

Miracle and Blessings Daycare closed April 20, 2016.