Raylee JoLynn Browning, age 8, was murdered by her father, Marty Browning, Browning’s partner Julie Dawn Titchenell, and Julie’s sister Sherie Titchenell. The family also lived with Julie Titchenell’s three children, including a girl, V. Raylee and V. were homeschooled.
Raylee was born in 2010. Her biological mother was not actively involved in her life; Raylee lived with Browning as early as 2011, when the first of her hospitalizations for various injuries occurred. All three of her caregivers alleged that Raylee had a history of self-mutilation starting in 2012 when Sherie Titchenell entered her life, although one of these supposed self-injuries was a broken femur, which is a common injury from child abuse. Raylee was on seven medications, purportedly to treat mood disorders and autism, at the time of her death; authorities think she may have been a victim of medical abuse.
Sherie was the primary caregiver for Raylee and for Julie’s children, although according to V., Sherie singled out Raylee for abuse because she was not Julie’s child, and V. for abuse because she was of a different race. Raylee and V. originally attended school in Nicolas County, WV, where Raylee asked cafeteria workers for extra food because she was starved at home. Teachers at her school made multiple reports to child services about their concerns, although it is unclear if a case was ever opened. According to V., “the adults had told her to lie to CPS workers about Raylee’s home life, and she did so because she was scared. She said that she and [Raylee] had been taken out of school and homeschooled because Sherie allegedly said she could think of no more lies for the two girls to tell to CPS workers.”
Raylee shared a bedroom with Sherie. Raylee was forced to sleep on the floor in a diaper and beaten with various objects. Raylee was punished during homeschooling by being forced to stand and walk in the hallways rather than being educated. Once Sherie punished Raylee by depriving her of water for three days; Raylee drank out of a toilet to stay alive. When Raylee died, “she had bruising, burns and lacerations on her body, and her rectum was torn.” Investigators hypothesized that Raylee’s cause of death was an infection that led to sepsis; according to V., it may have been drinking from the toilet that led to the infection.
The abuse came to light when Sherie brought an unconscious Raylee to the hospital; Raylee subsequently died. Raylee’s caregivers gave inconsistent statements about the circumstances of her death. Browning and the Titchenells were charged with Raylee’s death and with child neglect.
Date: December 26, 2018
Location: Oak Hill, West Virginia
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