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Daycare where 1-year-old twins drowned in pool had history of complaints: Department of Human Services

Troubling new details have emerged about the Tennessee daycare at which a twin boy and girl drowned last week.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the 1-year-old siblings were able to enter a pool at the Knox County residence when the owner said she went to the door to welcome another child.

According to KNOX, this double fatality was just the latest in a string of complaints against Om Baby, the home-based West Knoxville daycare provider.

Elijah and Elyssa Orejuela died just shy of their second birthdays and about two months after a Department of Human Services complaint against the daycare’s operator, Jennifer Salley.

Though the daycare was registered, early reports indicate the babysitter was not a licensed child-care provider and thus was limited to caring for a maximum of four children at any time. The number of hours unlicensed providers are allowed to care for children per day is also limited under the state law.

The complaint filed in May claimed Salley was keeping more children than permitted by law.

After a complainant reported seeing eight children at the location at one time, Ansley Taylor of the DHS reportedly paid Salley an unannounced visit. The evaluator reportedly got no response and left a note, returning about a week later with similar results.

A subsequent Facebook page appeared to show at least 11 children at the home at one time. Salley also allegedly

Further investigation led to additional allegations against Om Baby, including unsanitary conditions, misleading claims and offering to accept payment in narcotics.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it was investigating the business along with DHS, though it was unclear whether any criminal charges were expected.

DHS staff visited the residence multiple time. In one instance, Salley agreed to an interview and attempted to explain her inaccurate online advertisement, claiming she had begun the process of licensing the facility with the state when she posted it.

A later visit revealed an assistant caring for children while Salley was at a doctor’s appointment. At that time, DHS evaluators said they could smell a strong odor of feces.

The caretaker also seemed not to know the children’s names and there were reportedly six children there at the time. That order was upheld days later with an court injunction.

On May 17, DHS ordered Salley to cease operation of the facility without a license, though department spokesperson Sky Arnold said there was no evidence Salley was not complying with that order at the time of the twins’ deaths.

Friends of the victims’ family have established an online fundraiser to aid with expenses.

[Featured image: Elyssa & Elijah Orejuela, GoFundMe]