Harrison County

Dad denies request to visit 3-year-old daughter’s grave

Cheyenne Hyer
Cheyenne Hyer

Clark Ladner was just yards away inside his house while a 3-year-old girl sat in the back of her mother’s patrol car for hours before she was found dead. So when he recently asked the girl’s father for permission to visit her grave, he was denied.

“I told him to leave us alone,” Ryan Hyer said Thursday. “I told him not to contact us anymore. I don’t trust him.”

Hyer and his girlfriend shared with the Sun Herald the message from Ladner, a former Long Beach police supervisor, posted on the Facebook page “Justice for Cheyenne” dedicated to the memory of Cheyenne Hyer.

Cheyenne died Sept. 30 after authorities say her mother, former Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker, left her alone in the back of her hot patrol car for nearly eight hours. Barker told authorities she had stopped by Ladner’s home to visit, but had fallen asleep.

Ryan Hyer is distributing "Justice for Cheyenne" stickers in South Mississippi to help keep the memory of his daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, alive. Cheyenne died in September after her mother, Cassie Barker, allegedly left her in a police car unattended

Barker has been arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the child’s death. She is free on a $50,000 bond pending trial.

In the Facebook message to Hyer, Ladner wrote: “Ryan, I don’t know how you feel about me. I understand how you feel about Cassie. I just want you to know that I loved Cheyenne to death and I’m heartbroken since she passed.

“Had I known she was in that f-----g car, things would be different. I’m sorry for your loss. One day, I hope maybe you will give me permission to visit her. I really feel I have to. If so, you would have my word I will not let Cassie know where it is. I just want to make the trip myself and be near my little friend one more time. If not, I understand.”

Ryan Hyer said he received the Facebook message about Dec. 5, though he didn’t see it right away because he was not one of Ladner’s Facebook friends.

He and his girlfriend, Angela Rouse, wrote back to Ladner. They both told him they didn’t trust him and that Cheyenne’s burial site was private. They also questioned how Barker got money to get out of jail on bond, and whether he was trying to find Cheyenne’s grave so he could tell Barker.

Ryan Hyer questions why the mother of their daughter, Cassie Barker, is still free after their daughter, 3, was found unresponsive in her car in September. Barker, a former Long Beach police officer, had been investigated in 2015 by DHS after Gulf

In a response, Ladner points out “everyone is provided the ability to bond (out of jail), though I’ve seen many people that I put in jail for heinous s--- get out on bond walking around free for years before court and always wonder how the family of the victim must feel.”

Ladner said in his note he’s quit speaking to Barker, but had been in touch with her for some time after Cheyenne’s death.

“She’ll have her day in court,” he wrote. “I was staying in touch because she was my friend and yeah, she’s the reason Shy’s (Cheyenne) gone, and if I thought it was done on purpose, I would have killed (Barker) myself the day it happened, but she flipped the script on me, basically blaming me for her being at my house, etc., when I have many texts telling her we didn’t need to hang out anymore, etc.”

He said he had no idea Barker was coming over that morning after the two had worked a night shift. When Barker got to his home, he said, he was “too tired to argue about her being there or not.”

Cassie Barker surrenders to Hancock County Sheriff's Office to face manslaughter charges in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Hyer.

When he didn’t see Cheyenne, he said, he assumed Barker would be working later that evening at her other job at Lowe’s.

“She would normally leave Shy at ... (the babysitter’s) house on those days because she went in at 2, so it never even dawned on me Shy was in that (expletive) car,” he said wrote.

When Cheyenne did come over with Barker, he said, the child would sleep on the couch or they’d sit around with her while she played or watched cartoons on television.

“So I’m pissed, too, at the entire situation, and sad,” Ladner wrote. “I keep dreaming about Cheyenne and knowing I’ll never hear ‘Hey Qwuark! What u doin?’ ”

After exchanging messages, Ladner wrote he would not contact them again. The Sun Herald tried unsuccessfully to reach Ladner for comment.

Since his daughter’s death, Hyer said, he hasn’t been able to sleep much, and he’s in counseling with his pastor.

He said he was shocked Ladner wrote him.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I just have so much hatred right now and it’s taking its toll on me. It’s rough. It’s just really rough.”

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45