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Murray couple pleads not guilty to murder in toddler death

Publisher’s note: The information contained in this story may be upsetting to some individuals.  

MURRAY – Gruesome details of the murder of a 17-month-old girl came to light today following the arraignment of the child’s mother and her fiancé in Calloway District Court. 

Judge Randall Hutchens set $500,000 cash bonds for Chyanne Niemeyer, 24, and Nathaniel Gibson, 20, after they pleaded not guilty this morning to charges of murder and first-degree criminal abuse of a child aged 12 years or younger. The Murray couple was arrested Monday following an investigation by the Murray Police Department that was prompted by a call from staff in the Murray-Calloway County Hospital Emergency Department Monday evening about a child with suspicious injuries. 

The following information was obtained from the uniform citation issued in connection with this alleged crime. Readers should be aware that some may find the information below disturbing.

When the officer arrived at the emergency room shortly after 5 p.m., staff were still attempting to resuscitate the toddler but ceased life-saving measures shortly thereafter. The officer observed the child’s arms, stomach, back, genitals and legs were “bright red and missing skin.”

The injuries for which the child was taken to the hospital were not the only evidence of abuse observed. The child had “visible bruising” on her lower back and buttocks. She also had bruises on her forehead, cheek and lower lip. When questioned about the bruises, Niemeyer admitted to “snapping” when the child would scratch or bite and said that she had smacked her daughter in the areas where she was bruised.

According to Niemeyer’s account of the preceding events on Monday, she gave her daughter a bath around 11 a.m. While in the bath, the child started screaming and crying. Niemeyer noticed the water was steaming and attempted to remove the toddler from the water but could not because the water “scalded” her. When she saw the child’s skin “coming off of her and into the water,” Niemeyer removed the child, wrapped her in a towel and took her to the bedroom “where she peeled the rest of her skin off her body,” applied Bengay ointment to affected areas and got her dressed. 

Although Niemeyer noted her daughter was having difficulty breathing, she left the child with Gibson in the living room while she went to make lunch. After drinking two bottles of milk, the couple put the toddler down for a nap. When Gibson checked on her one and a half to two hours later, he found her unresponsive. At that point, they took the girl to the emergency room. 

When asked why she did not seek medical treatment sooner, Niemeyer said she and Gibson discussed it and thought the child was OK and that her injuries did not warrant medical intervention. During his questioning, Gibson noted he completed first aid training and was currently studying to be a nurse, so he “could take care of the baby and didn’t need to take her to the doctor.”   

Gibson’s account was consistent with Niemeyer’s, but he provided a few additional details. As he recalled, the child was in the bathtub for 10-12 minutes and cried the entire time. He also observed the steaming water and the child’s skin peeling off but stated the water was too hot to retrieve her, “so he retrieved a screwdriver to unstop the drain rather than attempting to remove the baby from the water.” 

Both Niemeyer and Gibson were examined, but no redness or burns were found to support their claims of attempting to remove the child from the water.

“Both parents stated the right thing to do would have been take her to the doctor for treatment, and both admitted they decided not to,” the citation states. “The victim then had ‘BenGay’ ointment applied to the majority of her body, adding to the pain and suffering she was already experiencing. The parents chose not to provide proper care and treatment of these extreme injuries, refused to take the child to a doctor, failed to notify any emergency services to the injuries, and allowed the victim to suffer for nearly six hours after her initial injuries. … The investigation determined (Niemeyer and Gibson’s) actions and decisions to neglect the injuries and refuse medical care to the juvenile caused (prolonged) torture and death of the victim.”

The couple is due back in court for preliminary hearings on Wednesday, Nov. 1. 

Individuals who are charged with crimes are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the events occurred on Sunday. We regret the error.

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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