A Girl in Cuffs
The ten-year-old girl held onto her father’s hand as she stood before the judge on a chilly November morning in Wisconsin. Her mother, Amber Sweeney, sobbed next to her as the judge read her charges: first-degree murder. And even more shocking, she was being tried as an adult. What could this little girl have possibly done that would deserve such aggressive charges? The truth is absolutely horrifying.
A Dream Fulfilled
For Nate Liedl, having a son was the only thing he wished for in life. After establishing a successful career and with the support of his family, he decided that he wanted to adopt so he could experience the joys of fatherhood. He never imagined the road would be filled with so many ups and downs.
Two Years of Waiting
After working with an adoption agency, Nate waited for over two years before his son was eventually placed in his arms. He named him Jaxon and it was love at first sight between the two of them. Unfortunately, their happy story would soon take a dark turn.
Since Nate worked full-time, he needed a daycare to take care of Jaxon during the workday. After conducting his research, Nate chose Amber’s Pals and Playmates, which was run by Amber Sweeney out of her home in Chippewa County. Nate loved her demeanor and her way with children and felt completely comfortable leaving his son there.
Unfortunately, Nate had no idea of the danger lurking inside Amber’s home.
Foster Parents on the Side
Besides running a daycare, Amber and her husband also worked as foster parents. They had recently taken in a 10-year-old girl (name has not been released due to her age) who had come from a very rocky home. They hoped to give her stability and a loving environment; however, things were about to take a serious turn for the worse.
A Normal Day at the Daycare
On the morning of October 30, 2018, Nate dropped off his son Jaxon like he normally did with Amber. Sadly, this would be the last time he would see his bright eyes and smiling face. What would happen next would set off a chain of events that would turn his world upside down.
Watching the Baby
The details of the events that occurred that afternoon are murky and were put together by testimony from Amber Sweeney, her husband, and the 10-year-old girl. According to Amber, she had ushered her three foster children outside to play because didn’t allow them to interact with the daycare and because the baby was sleeping. However, around 3:40 PM she noticed that her newest foster daughter was sitting in the alcove.
A Baby’s Scream
A few minutes later, Amber heard Jaxon scream and then it abruptly cut off. Running into the kitchen, she found the baby sprawled out on the floor with blood pouring from his head. Nearby, her foster daughter stood nervously unable to tell Amber what had happened. With the baby unresponsive, Amber quickly called 9-1-1.
The Worst Call of His Life
When the phone rang at his office, Nate expected to get an update from the daycare about Jaxon. He never expected that he needed to rush to the hospital. According to Nate, he recalled, “They told me there had been an accident and Jaxon had hurt his head. I had no idea it was as serious as it was.”
When Nate arrived at the hospital, he was told that Jaxon was in intensive care and suffering from blunt force trauma to the head. And although the six-month-old baby was fighting for his life, the prognosis was not looking good. At this point, Nate “lost it.” He had waited two years for his little boy and after only six months was about to lose him.
At Risk Transfer
Still holding onto a sliver of hope that his son might make it through, Nate gave permission for Jaxon to be flown to the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Jaxon would later develop brain swelling and after fighting for two days, died on November 1st.
Too Many Questions
The detectives assigned to the case had many questions for the young girl who had been with Jaxon at the time. She denied knowing anything at first, refusing to admit to any wrongdoing. However, something felt off about her responses and the police knew she was keeping a secret from them. Meanwhile, Amber surrendered her daycare license and shut down operations in an effort to avoid any more legal trouble.
Hours of Interrogation
In the coming days, the 10-year-old girl was questioned multiple times by the police. After one particularly grueling session of questioning, she finally broke down and admitted to injuring Jaxon. According to her, she had been holding the baby and accidentally dropped him. The toddler hit his head on a footstool and began to scream.
Panicked and Unsure
The girl, scared that she would get in trouble, reacted quickly and stomped on the baby’s head to make him stop crying. Sadly, this would cause severe injury to his skull and brain. Hospital and police records even verified the baby had the imprint of a shoe on his head. “She panicked and didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to get into trouble, and then she proceeded to stomp on the 6-month-old’s head.”
According to the investigators assigned to the case, the girl was known to be suffering from severe emotional problems. While the details of the circumstances revolving around why she was in foster care are unclear, the fact remains that she shouldn’t have been left alone with the children at the daycare.
Arrested for Murder
The young girl was arrested for the death of Jaxon and officially charged with first-degree intentional homicide. As she stood with her parents sobbing before the judge, she was ordered to a juvenile detention center with a bond a cash bond of $50,000 being assigned to her case. In the courtroom behind her sat Nate. His eyes never left her throughout the entire ten-minute hearing.
Never Forgive or Forget
“As opposed to seeing it as a 10-year-old girl, I see it as the person who killed my son, she deserved to be in handcuffs, she’s a criminal,” he revealed in an interview with Inside Edition. “I had sent a couple messages out to the family to let them know that Jaxon’s not going to make it. She’s the reason my son’s life was cut short.”
A Nation in Shock
When the story broke about the death of Jaxon and the 10-year-old girl responsible, it sent shockwaves across the nation. Not only was it a brutal crime, but the fact a girl so young had done the deed was chilling. However, what sparked an even bigger debate was that she was being tried as an adult. How was that even possible?
The Law of the Land
According to Wisconsin law, the state requires any child that is 10 or older and facing first-degree murder charges to appear in court as an adult. However, most of these cases are then referred to the juvenile court system. In this case, the judge seems to have no intention of transferring the girl to a juvenile court. If she were to be tried as an adult, it would pose the question of whether or not she had the mental maturity to understand her actions and the consequences of those actions.
As for Nate, losing his son was one of the most difficult experiences in his entire life. However, despite the pain and anger, he’s thankful for the precious memories from those short six months. Jaxon loved to laugh, smile and bounce in his pack-n-play chair. He knew how to light up a room with his laugh and that’s something no one can take away from Nate.
We hope when this is all said and done, justice will be served.