Five Mississippi daycare workers have been charged with child abuse after scaring small children with a mask much like the one featured in the popular “Scream” films.
A video of the five workers at Lil’ Blessings Child Care and Learning Center, located in Hamilton, Mississippi, showed them scaring kids while wearing the creepy mask. The daycare workers were fired after the video was posted on Facebook and went viral, according to the Monroe Journal.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement about the incident Thursday on its Facebook page.
“On Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the County prosecuting attorney, and the district attorney met with the parents of the children involved in the incident at Lil’ Blessings Child Care and Learning Center and informed them of the possible criminal charges the law would allow them to pursue,” Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook said in the statement. “Parents were also given an opportunity to share information they had gathered with MCSO Investigators.”
At least one set of parents filed felony abuse charges in Monroe County Justice Court on Wednesday. A judge issued warrants for the daycare workers Thursday.
Sierra McCandless, Oci-Anna Kilburn, Jennifer Newman and Shyenne Shelton were each charged with three counts of felony child abuse. Another former employee, Traci Hutson, was charged with misdemeanors of failure to report abuse and simple assault against a minor.
Sheila Sanders, who has worked at the daycare since 1987 and owned it for the last two decades, told the Monroe Journal she didn’t know about the videos until Oct. 5.
“I contacted my licensure, and she has gotten involved,” Sanders told the outlet on Oct. 6. “The people that did those acts are no longer with us. They were fired. I wasn’t here at the time and wasn’t aware they were doing that. I don’t condone that and never have. I just want to say it’s been taken care of.”
In a separate video, a daycare worker could be seen kneeling on the floor and screaming in one of the children’s faces, prompting the child to cry out in fear.
Sanders said one of the videos was recorded in September, while the recent viral video was recorded earlier this month.
Katelyn Johnson, a parent of a child who attends Lil’ Blessings, told ABC News on Thursday she was shocked at the former daycare workers’ behavior.
“Whether they had a mask on or a mask off, their behavior was unacceptable,” Johnson said. “My blood pressure was raised. It broke my heart for my child. I was angry.”
Johnson added: “I hope you’re enjoying jail, and I hope you realize what you have done is serious. It is not a joke, and it is nothing to laugh at.”