Bail hearing postponed for woman charged in 8-month-old's death at day care in city

A bail hearing for a woman charged in the death of an 8-month-old girl at a Baltimore day care center has been postponed until Tuesday.

Leah Walden, 23, is accused of smothering 8-month-old Reese Bowman at the Rocket Tiers Learning Center on Wednesday, police said. Surveillance video captured Walden covering the baby with "excessive blankets," which fully covered the child's head, police officials have said.

Walden is being held at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, and was not at the city jail, where monitors are set up to allow detainees to appear on video monitors before judges in District Court.

It is unclear why Walden is being held in Jessup. A spokesman with the state department of corrections, which oversees the city jail, did not respond Friday afternoon to a request for comment.

Walden, a resident of Windsor Mill, was taken into custody about 3 a.m. Thursday after a Rocket Tiers staffer notified police of the surveillance camera footage Wednesday evening.

The center was closed after the Maryland State Department of Education issued an emergency suspension order. To reopen, center officials must appeal the suspension and go before an administrative law judge.

The education department's Division of Early Childhood Development oversees day care centers across the state. It requires day care workers to undergo training and a background check.

Education department spokesman Bill Reinhard said Friday that Walden had undergone a background check but that he did not have additional information.

"The checks go through the Criminal Justice Information System, linked to the FBI database. It is up to the childcare center to make certain this is done prior to employment," he said.

Walden is charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, second-degree child abuse and reckless endangerment. She does not yet have an attorney listed in court records.

"Our hearts are broken. No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child under any circumstances," the child's family said in a statement released Thursday.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the child's family.

"There is little we can do to ease the suffering of her family and those who love her. But we can ensure that there is no financial burden on them during this time," wrote Sarah Elberson, who created the page. She did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Police asked any parents with concerns or suspicions of abuse to call the department's child abuse unit at 443-984-7378.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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