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Carl Michael Cottee JrNewport News, VA – Carl Cottee Jr., 23,  has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter, according to police.

Police were called to a home where Cottee had been caring for Madyson Van Cleave Hook while her mother was out. There they found the girl in a bedroom not breathing and showing signs of  trauma to her body, according to police spokesperson Holly McPherson.

The child was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead from blunt head trauma. Madyson’s grandmother was initially told the girl’s death was an accident, and that Madyson got dizzy after taking a bath, passed out and then hit her head.

But that does not explain the bruises and multiple skull fractures the family would later learn the girl had suffered. “It’s horrible I just can’t imagine her going through that pain,” her grandmother said. “I can hear her saying, ‘I love my Nan Nan.'”

Want to hear something infuriating? Madyson’s grandmother also said there was suspicion the girl was being abused after Madyson complained of being locked in a dresser and being left alone. Two weeks ago, Child Protective Services was called in to investigate for signs of abuse in the home, but nothing came of that investigation.

Carl Cottee Jr. was arrested and has been charged with murder, child neglect and cruelty and injuries to a child. He is currently residing in the Newport News City Jail.

A candlelight vigil was held for Madyson Sunday night where dozens attended and lit candles.  Madyson’s father, Shane Van Cleave, says he vows to keep telling his first born’s story while her family says Madyson’s death shows the importance of speaking up and speaking out about child abuse.

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