Two people in Kannapolis have been arrested in the "brutal murder" of a 15-month-old girl, according to Kannapolis police.
According to Kannapolis Police, 30-year-old John Travis Turner and 20-year-old Alisha Nicole Carlisle were arrested on Monday for the murder of toddler Malaya Heun.
Chief of Police J.W. "Woody" Chavis called Heun's murder "one of the worst cases of child abuse I have seen in over 30 years being a police officer."
Investigators say Malaya was assaulted on January 19, 2014 and died two days later of complications from blunt force trauma and hypovolemic shock.
Turner and Carlisle have been charged with first degree murder, felony child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
"I have seen many abused and battered children during my career but this one was extremely disturbing knowing how much this baby must have suffered before she died," Chief Chavis told WBTV.
"My investigators have worked so hard on this case and every one of them has a picture of Malaya hanging over their desk to remind them of the pain and suffering which was inflicted upon this little girl. This case has been priority one since day one for us to insure that justice was served."
However, Turner's mother tells WBTV exclusively that police have it wrong.
"There's just no way. I know he's innocent and I know he'll be proven innocent," Marcia Turner said.
The woman said John was around Malaya frequently in January and that he had a great relationship with the child.
"I've seen John with Malaya over and over again. He loved children, there's no way he'd ever hurt a child," Marcia said.
She says her son was crying when he called her with the news Monday morning. He told her he doesn't know who is responsible for Malaya's death, but that it's not him.
"He said he had no idea how she got hurt, other than when she fell down the stairs. His life is on the line with all this. This is not right," Marcia said.
**WARNING: Information below may be considered too graphic for some readers**
Search warrants that were issued while Malaya was fighting for her life at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte gave more information about the attack.
According to the warrants, medical personnel at the hospital said Malaya was being treated for extensive trauma.
They reported to Kannapolis Police that there were seven broken ribs on her left side, her head and body were bruised, and she had a displaced clavicle and torn intestines.
The torn intestines resulted in a severe infection that sent Malaya into septic shock. The little girl underwent surgery and was then placed on life support. She died on January 22.
Records also show that Malaya had a blood alcohol content of 0.02.
The warrants also say Malaya had vaginal and rectal damage. Her injuries were consistent with "signs of physical and sexual abuse."