Crime

Here’s why investigator believes Cassie Barker is a flight risk

Cheyenne Hyer
Cheyenne Hyer

Cheyenne Hyer’s body temperature was 107 degrees by the time paramedics got her to Hancock County Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

The 3-year-old’s mother, former Long Beach Police Cassie Barker, 27, left her daughter in the back of her patrol car from shortly before 9 a.m. until she discovered her daughter unresponsive at 1:50 p.m. Sept. 30, according to the affidavit filed in the case. She had stopped by former supervisor’s home, Sgt. Clark Ladner, to discuss a work-related matter, she told investigators.

Barker had just gotten off of work at 6 a.m. and had picked up her daughter from the babysitter’s home around 8:30 a.m., Hancock County Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said Monday. She then stopped by Ladner’s home.

She said she planned to stay a few minutes, but fell sleep and didn’t wake up until nearly five hours later, when she went back outside to check on Cheyenne. Both Barker and Ladner performed CPR in an attempt to revive her. American Medical Response personnel arrived a short time later at Ladner’s home on CC Road in Kiln.

“Now, AMR spent spent 30 or 40 minutes working on her before she got to the hospital,” Grannan said, adding the group had been working during that time to cool Cheyenne’s body down. Her temperature was still at 107 when the doctor pronounced her dead.

Grannan said investigators learned the preliminary autopsy indicated Cheyenne’s death was heat-related, but the full autopsy results, complete with toxicology results, are not yet complete.

Left in the car

In the past, Grannan said, Barker would sometimes leave Cheyenne with the babysitter overnight because Barker worked a night shift. When Barker arrived to pick up Cheyenne the day she died, her babysitter had told Barker that Cheyenne “could stay the night.”

Barker later told authorities she wasn’t planning to stay but a “few minutes” when she dropped by Ladner’s home on CC Road in Kiln. She left Cheyenne strapped in her car seat with the windows rolled up and the car running.

According to the affidavit, the car’s air conditioning was set at the maximum level, but the temperature setting was past the cold setting and closer to the heat setting and the air blower was on low.

A warrant was issued for Barker’s arrest on a charge of manslaughter by culpable negligence was issued Wednesday.

Barker was hospitalized immediately after her daughter died after she threatened to harm herself. She was released from the hospital Wednesday evening. When sheriff’s investigators went to arrest her Thursday morning, Barker had already left her home on Dummy Line Road in Kiln.

Flight risk

Investigators who arrived at her home peered through a window and saw that she already had moved furniture out and other items had been boxed up. Barker had also rented a place to store some of her belongings, investigators learned.

Sheriff Ricky Adam and Grannan said they became concerned about Barker being a flight risk after they learned she had left the state. Adam then issued a statement saying he would arrest anyone who helped her if she didn’t surrender Thursday.

She didn’t arrive at the sheriff’s department until shortly after 3 p.m. By that time, her $50,000 bond had already been set.

In fact, Justice Court records indicate Judge Tommy Carver set the bond by cellphone at 9:42 a.m. the day before, when the arrest warrant was issued.

When Barker surrendered, she was booked on the manslaughter charge and released within an hour. When asked if she wished to speak to investigators, she refused and referred all questions to her attorney, Donald Rafferty. He has since asked the state to turn over any evidence in the case and has requested a preliminary hearing, which is set for Nov. 1.

If convicted, Barker could go to prison for no less than two years or up to 20 years.

Barker’s bond does not prohibit her from leaving the state, a concern Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, now has because he says he’s concerned Barker will show up to try to see Cheyenne before she’s laid to rest.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

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