A 23-year-old active-duty soldier and her Army veteran boyfriend have been charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, police in North Carolina say.
The couple was charged with first-degree murder and negligent child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, police say. They are being held without bail.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Her Daughter Was Unresponsive & Covered in Bruises When She Was Taken to the Hospital, Police Say
The 2-year-old girl, Macy Grace Ditty, was unresponsive when she was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on December 2, 2015, WRAL-TV reports.
Doctors told police she had bruises all over her body and an investigation determined she had suffered life-threatening injuries consistent with child abuse. Macy Grace died on December 4, 2015.
The girl’s grandmother told the Fayetteville Observer her son, Kevin Ditty, who is also in the Army, was called back from overseas to decide whether to take the girl off of life support. Kevin Ditty and Jeanie Ditty are divorced.
According to the arrest warrant, Ditty said she called Keefer, a paramedic, to check on her daughter because the girl wasn’t feeling well. About 25 minutes after Keefer arrived, they found Macy Grace was choking on vomit and called 911.
2. Ditty Ordered ‘Angelic’ Tribute Photos With Her Daughter Superimposed at Her Gravesite
After the death of Macy Grace, Jeanie Ditty ordered “angelic” photos from a Pennsylvania photographer. Sunny Jo Photography superimposed the girl into photos taken by Keefer of Jeanie Ditty at her daughter’s gravesite. She contacted the photography studio about a month after her daughter died.
The photos are a package Sunny Jo calls “One More Time” tribute photos.
“I knew that it was a grieving mother, and I felt so bad that she lost her 2-year-old daughter that I jumped right on it,” Sunny Jo told WNEP-TV. “Knowing that she used me and she used this to possibly make herself seem innocent. That’s the worst feeling in the world.”
Ditty posted the photos on Facebook in January, writing “Sunny Jo did some amazing work for me of my angel and I.”
Sunny Jo told the Fayetteville Observer, “I called the detective in charge of the situation, and I find out that she wanted these photos just to lie to the public, to cover up what she did so she can look like the grieving mother.”
Ditty often posted photos with her daughter on Facebook, along with videos, like one you can watch below:
3. She & Her Boyfriend Are Facing the Death Penalty
Jeanie Ditty and her boyfriend were arrested last week. They could face the death penalty.
The couple appeared in court for the first time on Monday. Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West called the girl’s death “horrific” and said, “whoever is responsible, we’re going to hold them accountable,” according to the Fayetteville Observer.
They are being represented by public defenders and are being held at Cumberland County Jail.
4. She Has Been an Active Duty Soldier at Fort Bragg Since 2013
Jeanie Ditty is a soldier in the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
She joined the military after high school and has been stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina since 2013, the Army says.
Keefer, Ditty’s boyfriend, served in the Army for 12 years, according to the Observer. He had worked as a paramedic at First Health of the Carolinas since 2015, according to his Linkedin page.
He was a Special Forces Senior Medical Sergeant in the Army.
5. She Is Originally From Pennsylvania & Has Taken Part in Bikini Competitions
Jeanie Ditty, whose maiden name is Jeanie Vengen, is originally from Pennsylvania, according to WNEP-TV.
Family members told the news station she grew up in the Pottsville area and had an unstable childhood.
In addition to being in the Army, Ditty participated in bodybuilding competitions in North Carolina, according to her Facebook page.
Ditty placed 11th in a 2014 bikini competition, according to the website for the North Carolina chapter of the National Physique Committee.
Keefer is the owner of Xtreme Fitness Inc., where he works as a personal trainer specializing in preparing competitors for bikini and bodybuilding competitions.