Iowa Co. daycare provider accused of neglect in death of baby that suffered brain injury

A nurse practitioner at UW Health diagnosed the baby’s case as “Definitive physical abuse of a child.”
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A four-month-old Mineral Point baby died after receiving a severe traumatic brain injury as police accuse a daycare provider of neglect while he was in her care, according to a criminal complaint released Tuesday.

The complaint states that the mother of four-month-old Wyatt Hamlin dropped him off around 7:15 a.m. on Feb. 25 at the daycare provider’s home in the City of Mineral Point. Joanna Ford, 29, provided care for the child.

A state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation agent’s review of a report related to Ford’s cell phone showed that she texted someone that she had an appointment at 2 p.m. on Feb. 25 in Dodgeville. Officers discovered that Ford had visited a tattoo and piercing shop in Dodgeville from around 2 p.m. until just after 3:20 p.m. that day.

Ford was the only adult home that day while the baby was in her care, the complaint notes. The only other people at the home other than Wyatt were a one-and-a-hal year old and Ford’s children, ages ranging from 6 to 11, the complaint states. Authorities allege Ford was negligent in leaving the baby at her home unattended while she went to an appointment and created a serious risk of potential harm to the child.

Around 3:30 p.m. that day, the mother told authorities that Ford sent her a video of the baby breathing quickly and said he was only wearing his diaper. The mother said she knew something was wrong, the complaint says. The complaint continues, saying Ford sent the mother another video of the baby breathing quickly in a way the mother had never seen before. She called the baby’s father to go and pick him up.

The father told police he arrived at Ford’s residence just after 3:45 p.m. and found the child dressed and in his car seat. The father said he could tell the baby was not well and took him home. Just after taking him out of the car seat at home, the father told police he knew something was wrong. He immediately took the baby to a hospital.

Once at the Dodgeville hospital, doctors stated that CT scans taken of the baby showed he had brain swelling. The child was taken around 6:30 p.m. in a MedFlight to American Family Children’s Hospital with injuries the medical staff believed were the result of physical abuse. The complaint states the child died on March 1.

Autopsy results for the child indicated that he was diagnosed with severe traumatic brain injury and a possible fracture to his left tibia bone, the complaint notes. He also had a small bruise to the back of his head, as well as small hemorrhages over his face and under his right eye. Doctors said their findings indicated that the injuries happened within hours prior to the child arriving at the hospital, rather than over longer periods of time.

A nurse practitioner at UW Health diagnosed the baby’s case as “Definitive physical abuse of a child.”

The complaint cites a physician assistant at UW Hospital, who said that the baby did not have any underlying genetic or metabolic conditions that would have led to the child’s symptoms.

Ford is accused of neglecting a child with death as a consequence. She is set to appear in Iowa County court on May 31 for her preliminary hearing.

Wyatt Hamlin
Wyatt Hamlin(Becky Hamlin)

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