Warrants: Raleigh pair charged with child abuse after 5-year-old dies

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Two people were arrested and charged with felony negligent child abuse after the death of a 5-year-old child, warrants say.

Police say Jermaine Kareem Rhyne, 24, of Raleigh, was the father of a child who burned their hands on a space heater. Warrants say Rhyne refused to take his 5-year-old daughter, Jassika, to the hospital for the burns.

Rhyne was charged with felony child abuse — serious bodily injury.

Warrants say Rhyne showed a “reckless disregard for human life being the parent of the child and not supervising the child which burned her hands on a space heater and not seeking medical treatment for those burns, resulting in serious bodily injury.”

A second document says Rhyne “showed a reckless disregard for human life, resulting in the death of the child.”

Police say Rhyne’s girlfriend, 36-year-old Tiffany Takoa Valentine, of the same address in Raleigh, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse — serious bodily injury.

Warrants claim Valentine also refused to seek medical attention for the girl and “showed a reckless disregard for human life, resulting in the death of the child.”

Ashley Valentine, Tiffany Valentine’s cousin said the boy’s death is something that could have happened to anyone.

“The autopsy report said that she had swallowed a suction cup, that got stuck in his airwaves,” Ashley Valentine said. “They woke up in the morning to get the kids ready for school, and the child’s dead.”

Valentine’s family said the space heater incident is unrelated to Jassika’s death.

“You’re ripping this family apart,” she said. “You arrest both of the parents, who are obviously great parents trying to provide a better life. They have a beautiful home. They take care of the kids.”

It is unclear when the child exactly died.

Both Tiffany Valentine and Jermaine Rhyne are due back in court in February.

CBS 17 has requested the autopsy report.

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