Brevard day care workers accused of failing to report abuse that led to 3-year-old’s death

Director, teachers with Health First Center for Child Development arrested

Elizabeth Fowler, 37, and Kristal Samuel, 40, (left and right) are currently booked in Brevard County jail. Jaymie Gaucher, 51, (center) was booked into Osceola County jail, where she has since bonded out. All three face charges for failing to report suspected child abuse. (Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Osceola County Sheriff's Office)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Three day care employees were arrested and another is under investigation on allegations of failing to report child abuse that ultimately led to the death of a 3-year-old boy last June in West Melbourne, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said they arrested three Health First Center for Child Development employees -- two teachers and one director -- in connection with the death of Jameson Nance.

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Nance’s mother, 27-year-old Erica Dotson, and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Joshua Manns, were previously indicted by a Brevard County grand jury in July 2021 on first-degree murder charges in the boy’s death.

Lead day care teacher Elizabeth Fowler, 37, teacher Kristal Samuel, 40, and director Jaymie Gaucher, 51, also face charges in the case for failing to report suspected child abuse, after an investigation launched by the Department of Children and Families showed they knew about the boy’s injuries, according to arrest reports.

The reports show that the boy was taken to Health First Center for Child Development at 611 E. Sheridan Road in Melbourne by Dotson around 6:53 a.m. on June 2, 2021, nine days before his death. Deputies said Fowler told them in a typed statement that she observed bruises “yellow in color” on the victim’s “forehead, left temple, ear, and jawline,” as well as red scabbing on his left ear that morning.

Once the boy removed his mask, Fowler also observed that “bruising on (Nance’s) forehead appeared to extend to bridge of nose” in addition to bruising on his right cheek and a “very large yellowish, green bruise on (his) right jawline,” according to the report.

Deputies said Dotson told Fowler the injuries on the victim’s face, head and ear were a result of a duck attacking and biting him at a lake at the Grand Oaks at the Lake apartment complex in West Melbourne.

After that interaction, Fowler did not initiate any report of suspected child abuse via the DCF hotline, even though she was a mandated reporter, investigators said.

The report states the day care director, Gaucher, alongside Samuel, who’s also a teacher, pulled the boy into the office privately to question him about the story behind his injuries.

Nance told the two day care officials that his mother and her boyfriend were cooking out by the pond when he was attacked by a duck and promptly rolled down a hill, landing in the water, deputies said. He initially said Manns pulled him out of the pond, and later said Dotson did, according to investigators.

According to the report, the boy did not mention the duck biting or scratching him, as Dotson previously told Fowler.

Gaucher was told by another day care employee if the boy’s story aligned with Dotson’s, “there was not much DCF could do,” the sheriff’s office said.

The state attorney’s office for Brevard and Seminole counties previously filed a motion of intent to seek the death penalty against Manns and Dotson in the 3-year-old’s death back in August 2021.

Fowler and Samuel, both arrested Wednesday, are currently booked in Brevard County jail, where they are being held on a $5,000 bond each.

Gaucher was booked into Osceola County jail and later bonded out.