Toddler dead after suffering burns to as much as half her body

NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk judge has denied bond for a mother and her boyfriend charged in her 2-year-old daughter’s death, PIX11 sister station WTKR reports.

John Hardee and Shelby Love

John Hardee and Shelby Love are charged with felony child abuse.

Police say they were called to the home on 20th Bay Street in the Ocean View section of the city around 3:30 a.m. last Tuesday. They say the child had burns all over her body. She was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

In court Monday morning, the Commonwealth said the child had burns over 30 to 50 percent of her body.

They claim Hardee was alone with the 2-year-old and sent text messages to Love around 4:30 p.m. on April 23, saying, “I’m going to prison” and “hurry home.” According to them, the couple didn’t call 911 until about 11 hours later when the child began having seizures.

Allegedly, the only medical treatment they did perform before contacting police was applying vinegar to the child's wounds.

Hardee is a father of three children.

In 2014, Hardee pleaded guilty to strangulation and child neglect and abuse. According to court documents, Hardee hit his child in the head multiple times, resulting in a fracture to the child's skull. During the same incident, he strangled his girlfriend. Hardee was sentenced to three years behind bars.

According to the prosecution, Hardee was not supposed to have unsupervised contact with children following the incident in 2014.

However, he was alone with Love's daughter on April 23, 2017.

The judge looked at pictures of the child's injuries, saying she was "at a loss for words," calling the incident "horrific." She immediately denied Hardee's bond request.

The autopsy states the child had burns to her back, legs, arms, buttock and feet.

As for Love, her attorney told the court she met Hardee four months ago and moved in with him just two months ago. The defense claimed Hardee was abusive and Love feared for her life.

Her attorney said she moved to Virginia from Oklahoma because of domestic abuse.

The judge denied Love bond because she didn't take her child to the hospital.

The prosecution said a doctor told them the two-year-old may have survived had she received medical care immediately.

Both are due back in court in July.