Florida babysitter charged with murder of shaken baby who died at 35

A Florida woman who, at 22, served time for violently shaking a 5-month-old baby has been charged with his murder 37 years later.

Terry McKirchy, 59, has been arrested in Texas and charged with the first-degree murder of Benjamin Dowling, who died at home in Florida in September 2019, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported Sunday.

In 1984, Dowling’s parents returned home to find Benjamin slightly blue and struggling to breathe. His mother rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Shaken Infant Syndrome.

Dowling spent a month in the hospital, getting metal rods in his spine to help hold him upright and a feeding tube in his abdomen. He went to occupational, physical and speech therapy.

“Benjamin never progressed in development beyond a 5½-month-old infant. Benjamin never crawled, fully rolled over, walked, never talked, never fed himself, he never enjoyed a hamburger or an ice cream cone,” his parents, Rae and Joe Dowling, said in a statement to the Sun-Sentinel.

“Although he lived to be 35 years old, the life we would have lived as a family was forever altered. We cherish our time with and memories of Benjamin, and we continue to support him through our belief that there should be justice for Benjamin.”

McKirchey was found guilty of first-degree attempted murder and aggravated battery but the babysitter, who was six months pregnant, took a plea deal that required her to only report to jail on weekends until she gave birth.

When Dowling died on Sept. 16, 2019, the medical examiner’s office tied his death to injuries sustained in 1984.

Now, McKirchey faces a murder charge and, if convicted, life in prison.

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