Braelyn infant shaken to death

Daycare worker on trial for murder of 4-month-old girl

by Leigh Egan

A Noble, Oklahoma, home daycare worker will go to trial on murder charges.  A judge ruled on Tuesday that the case has enough evidence to move forward.

News 9 reports Melissa Clark said nothing as she was escorted out the courtroom after learning she’d face murder charges for the death of 4-month-old Braelyn Zachary. The baby was one of the handful of children that Clark took care of during 2011, but the only one to die from being shaken too roughly.

On July 19, 2016, Clark called 911 and said that Braelyn was having difficulties breathing. The baby was taken to a local hospital, but her situation was so dire that she was rushed to St. Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa. She died shortly after. Her cause of death, according to a physician who testified in court on Tuesday, was abusive head trauma. A medical examiner ruled the death as blunt force trauma to the head.

[Photo: Cleveland County Jail]
[Photo: Cleveland County Jail]


The child’s injuries didn’t match Clark’s account of what happened. Clark indicated that she tripped while holding Braelyn. She changed her story later and said she dropped the baby while making coffee. Then again, she changed her story and said threw baby too roughly into her bouncy seat.

During an interview with Clark that lasted close to three hours, an OSBI Investigator questioned her thoroughly, which likely is why the suspect began to trip on her own stories. Towards the end of the interview, Clark began crying and admitted that she “just lost it” out of frustration and was scared to tell the truth about what happened.

The baby’s family and Clark’s family declined to comment on the judge’s decision. She’s due back in court at a later date for a formal arraignment.

[Feature Photo: Family Handout]

Leigh Egan is a crime-fighting journalist and editor who specializes in breaking news and investigative true crime coverage. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Leigh’s work can be found in a number of high-profile national publications. For Leigh, learning didn’t stop after college. She considers herself a lifelong learner who frequently takes media and journalism courses to keep abreast of the latest happenings and innovations in her field.