This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Brianna Kichelle Hester who was born in Brunswick, Georgia on November 17, 2007 and was taken from us too soon on May 01, 2009 at the age of 17 months. Although we did not have her for very long, she will forever be "Our Sunshine". WE WILL GET YOU JUSTICE OUR LITTLE BUTTERBEAN! ~~~RIP our little Bri-Bri~~~
Our beautiful little Angel Brianna was beaten and murdered by a monster-my daughter's ex-boyfriend. She died on May 1, 2009. My grief is still fresh but I am compelled to share her story with others so that maybe this will not happen again. I NEED to share Brianna's story so that her short life will not have been in vain. Hopefully it will bring more awareness to the seriousness and lifetime consequences of child abuse. Not only was her life taken too soon but a family has been shattered and will never be the same.
I was 54 in 2009 and a happy single working mother of 3 wonderful adult daughters; Christine 36, and twins Karen and Kim, then 22. Two years before, in 2007, Kim was the only one still living at home with me. She had a very close knit family, many wonderful friends, a great job, a new car and life was good, as she would say. But there was a downside. Kim had a painful disease called endometriosis. She had already had one cyst surgically removed from her ovary when she was age 19. She was told her chance of having children would become less with each cyst removed. Hopefully she would have no more cysts grow anytime soon, but that was not the case. Another painfully cyst started growing again only one year later and she was now looking at the possibility of a second surgery. Cysts were forming too rapidly and would have to be surgically removed each time. Each surgery would weaken her ability to carry a child. Her endometriosis was becoming more severe with each passing month. Kim was told to seriously consider having a hysterectomy. At only 20 years of age she was heartbroken. She had always wanted her own children someday. After a lot of thought and more pain, Kim decided she would have the hysterectomy. Her pain was becoming increasingly unbearable and a hysterectomy would totally cure her endometriosis. Ironically at her next Drs. visit Kim found out that she was pregnant. Plans for a hysterectomy were cancelled. Kim was in seventh heaven. We were all surprised and ecstatic, regardless of the fact she was young and unmarried. This may be her only chance for a baby of her own, her MIRACLE CHILD. It would be a high risk pregnancy but the whole family was thrilled and always willing to be there for Kim and her baby. Kim and I decided to go on living together in the house where she was raised. I happily agreed to help her raise Brianna in every way. Kim and I went to all the classes together- breastfeeding, childbirth, parenting...Kim was so eager to learn all she could to prepare for her blessing from above. This was going to be her
Our miracle, Brianna Kichelle Hester, came to us from heaven on the morning of November 17, 2007. She was premature and tiny but healthy and strong. We knew we had been blessed. She was the happiest, most content baby I had ever known. All one has to do is look at this memorial page and all her pictures to see how happy and special she was! Her first year was an amazing journey for all of us. Kim was so content & fulfilled. Our family was so happy. Baby Brianna enriched our lives beyond compare. Life was indeed good! But life is full of uncertanty and change. Change was just over the horizon.
Almost a year after Bri was born her mommy met what she "thought" was a wonderful man. He seemed so settled and mature and took to both Mommy and daughter in ways my daughter had never thought possible. Virtually a dream come true in every way she thought. She instantly fell in love. Kim envisioned a life of happiness for her and Brianna and her new found love. Life seemed so full, but definetly full of changes. Just before Brianna's first birthday Mommy and Bri moved into this mans apartment and started planning a wonderful life. Mommy enrolled herself in night classes at college to become a nurse, all to make sure she gave her "little miracle" the best life she possibly could. She'd promised Brianna she would do this for her. It was a promise she went on to fulfill. It was November 2008. Brianna was now a year old and life seemed to be all falling into place. A happy place Kim thought, until the rest of her family started seeing certain things and began asking questions. Why were we seeing less of her and Bri? Why did she seem to alienate her family in what seemed to be her happiest of times? Why did it seem like her first priority had become this man and not her beloved daughter as it had always been? AND then the big question came in February 2009, the one that drove her further away from the special closeness we had always shared as a family-WHY was Brianna ALWAYS bruised when we saw her? My daughter's defenses always came up strong and hard when we tried to get answers. "Brianna was just learning to walk and she seemed to fall down a lot", her mommy would say. By the time Bri was 13 months old nothing could slow her down. She was walking and running all over the place and loving every minute. She was so animated and full of life. Yes she would sometimes fall, as all toddler's do, but I only saw her fall once that left a visible bruise. But Brianna also had a slight turn in her left foot and leg. Maybe this was why she was falling so much? Was this something serious? Her pediatrician quickly reassured us this was nothing of concern and she would eventually outgrow this, probably by 18 months old. Brianna never got the chance. When she was 16 months old, we were all very worried when our little Bri-Bri suddenly stopped walking completely on Easter Sunday 2009. Mommy took Brianna to her doctor the next day. He admitted her to the local children's hospital for tests. After 5 days of numerous tests everything came back normal. The only diagnosis the doctors could come up with was "acute cerebral ataxia" probably caused by an unknown virus. It would have to run its course and eventually she would fully recover. This diagnosis all seemed so vague and confusing, but we trusted the doctors’ opinions. We also trusted when the doctors contacted the Glynn County Dept. of Family and Children’s Services (DEFACS). The Drs. in the hospital had also seen some old and newer bruises on Brianna's head that seemed suspicious and disconcerting, but again tests could reveal nothing. Her mommy seemed reassured by all the test results but the rest of the family was not so sure. Maybe now that DEFACS was to be involved we would get some answers and help. Brianna was released from the hospital and seemed to be recovering slowly. She began to walk a little but she still had a pronounced and obviously painful limp. As a follow-up to the hospitals requests (2 by now from 2 hospitals) DEFACS came out once to check on Brianna-but her caseworker NEVER actually saw Brianna as she was out running errands with her mommy that day. FIVE more complaints had been called in to DEFACS by our family by late April 2009, Family and friends saw that Brianna was still getting bruises. Mommy was now alienating herself even more from her "overly dramatic" family (as she called us). Doctors had done all the tests and everything turned out normal, so anything we suspected as a concerned family was just our way of ruining her new found happiness. I was beginning to get very concerned that maybe all of this was NOT MEDICAL... not a virus as Drs. had diagnosed. A virus??? All seasoned parents know what Drs. mean when they say VIRUS, don't we? Were they just guessing?After some research I had found out that head trauma was high on the list of possible causes of cerebral ataxia. I was getting very worried by now. Was my precious little granddaughter being abused? I knew in my heart that my daughter would never let that happen as Brianna was her world. But was she blinded by love? Brainwashed by this man we all hardly knew? Were we ALL just overreacting? My worries escalated even more when I had stopped by one day unannounced to drop some mail off to Kim. She answered the door with Brianna in her arms. Oddly I was never invited in. I saw new bruising and a fresh cut over Bri’s eye. My heart sank and I know my daughter saw this on my face. I began to ask about the cut but she told me that Bri had accidentally done it to herself while having a temper tantrum as her fingernails had not been cut. But what about those bruises? Again I was angrily told that she was falling down a lot in her attempts to regain walking. ALSO, and most disheartening, Brianna's knuckles were red and raw. I asked Kim how they got that way. "Because she picks at herself Mom" was the answer I got along with "Brianna digs at her knuckles til they bleed, she does that to herself". An alarm went off inside me. Normal toddlers DO NOT pick their knucles raw, do they? I didn't have a word for it at that time but now I know that she was self-mutilating and this WAS NOT NORMAL behavior! Kim was not happy that I had dared insinuate someone could be hurting Brianna on purpose. She couldn't understand why her family was so intent on ruining her happiness by thinking such things. BUT something was terribly wrong! I knew this and desperately tried to get DEFACS to intervene. I went directly to DEFACS after leaving my daughter that day and spoke with Bri's caseworker. I told her about the new bruises I had just seen and about her knuckles. Why can't you go today? Right now??? She promised me she was going out to check on Brianna the VERY NEXT DAY, as she had already had an appointment set up. She assured me she would see Brianna the very next day. Had she kept her promise I know in my heart Brianna would still be alive today? DEFACS never went out there. They never followed up the next day or any day. The next time we saw anyone from DEFACS was the morning AFTER she had been beaten to death. They said they came to inspect the apartment but my guess is they were covering there own mistakes as they knew this was now a child abuse/murder case. This will haunt me forever as they had promised to check on her.
ONLY EIGHT DAYS LATER...
8 days after I pleaded with Bri's caseworker to check on her, we got a call that would change our life forever. Brianna was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital. Mommy had gone off to school as usual, some 60 miles away. Later that night the boyfriend called her and then 911 saying Brianna had fallen, hit her head and was not breathing. When they got Brianna to the hospital there was nothing they could do. Her head trauma was so severe that they had to lifeflight her to another hospital. Her heart had stopped once enroute and two more times after that. Her tiny body could take no more. We were told she was already brain dead with machines keeping her alive. Because of the numerous bruises to her head & brain (old and new) and the fresh handprints around her tiny face, the hospital had already notified the police that this was NOT ACCIDENTAL! When Brianna's Mommy arrived at the hospital, having to drive sixty miles back going 120 mph on the interstate to get to her little girl, She had to make the most agonizing decision of any mothers life. The Doctors told her there was absolutely no chance for Brianna’s recovery. Brianna had gone too long without oxygen and her brain had been flattened. All hope was gone. Completely devastated and heartbroken, she made the decision to stop all the machines that were keeping her beautiful baby girl alive. We all got to hold her tiny hand as she slipped away from us. And all too soon Our "LITTLE MIRACLE" was gone forever.
OUR WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
Our family is and will always be totally devastated by this mans horrendous actions. We miss our little angel more than you could ever imagine. We second guess ourselves every day. Two years later we still ask WHY? Could we have done more? Why our family? Why our precious Brianna? Why did she have to suffer? Why did that monster who killed her do this to one so beautiful and so perfect? She was so innocent and defenseless. Her Mommy so niave and trusting.
YOU ARE ALWAYS OUR SUNSHINE!
Now we are left with nothing but memories that will be overshadowed by court dates and a murder trial. A marble headstone in the shape of a heart with her beautiful picture embedded in the center and the words “You Are Our Sunshine” etched into the cold stone. This is where we will now forever have her birthdays. Brianna was so totally cheated as she only got to celebrate one. My daughter was also cheated. She will never be the same person she was. At first she stood behind this man and defended him. She never saw him being mean to anyone let alone her own child. He had promised them so much. How could he possibly have done this. Denial set in hard at first but she has since learned that all he ever told her were lies. Still she will need counseling before she will ever love another or trust again. She is so full of guilt for not seeing what was happening. She blames herself to this day, but we have since learned that he had hurt other children in his past. We have also learned that he hurt Brianna almost every time her mommy left the apartment. The one thing this man forgot was that his own three children, who were also living at the apartment, saw more than he had ever imagined. Now that their daddy was in jail he could not hurt them so they came forward with all they had seen and heard. They were not being physically abused at this particular time but they had been in years past and it was never reported by anyone! OR maybe it was but DEFACS failed to do their job again?
I am still trying to make sense out of all of this. Why do things like this happen? What can we ever expect to learn from this and why? Can any good come from such a tragedy, and if so, what? Maybe by sharing this story it can prevent this hell from happening to someone else’s family. Then maybe Brianna will NOT have died in vain. We will never bring our precious baby back, but I have to do everything I can now to make her short but amazing life here on earth have made a difference. She was "too special" from the very beginning to be anything less than OUR LITTLE MIRACLE!
My name is Debra Hester and I was so blessed to be Brianna's Grammy for 17 wonderful months! The memories of that gift from God is something that no one will ever be able to take from me. It is my only hope now that I can help others to become aware of the fact that there are indeed "wolves in sheep’s clothing", monsters who charm their way into the hearts of others only to destroy everything around them. If I have learned anything from this tragedy, it is that one should always listen to that inner voice and ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
SADLY, I TOO, AM NOW A SURVIVOR OF CHILD ABUSE-BUT MY PAIN IS ENDLESS AND MY SCARS WILL NEVER HEAL UNTIL I SEE MY LITTLE ANGEL BRIANNA IN HEAVEN AGAIN SOMEDAY. I PRAY THAT I AM WORTHY.
~~~I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU SO MUCH MY LITTLE BUTTERBEAN~~~
I ALWAYS WILL...
RIP BRIANNA KICHELLE HESTER
GONE TOO SOON
NOV. 17, 2007 ~ MAY 1, 2009
AUGUST 16th 2012 **TRIAL UPDATE**
Daryl Keon Jones was found guilty of Felony Murder and Cruelty to Children 1st on August 16th 2012. He was sentenced to LIFE in prison! Brianna Kichelle Hester has finally received her JUSTICE and her family has finally received their CLOSURE here on earth and their healing process can finally begin. May you finally REST IN PEACE Brianna!