A murder charge in the Alexis Ward case

New developments, including a murder charge, in the case surrounding the suspicious death of Miller County two-year-old Alexis Ward. KRCG's Mallory McGowin has the details, including new information on the felony child endangerment charges Alexis's father now faces.

Nearly four months after the suspious death of Miller County toddler Alexis Ward, her father's girlfriend, 19-year-old Cheryl Patrick, is charged with second degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in death, both felonies in the State of Missouri.

Patrick lived on a gravel road off Highway 52 in Miller County, the home where Alexis Ward sustained her fatal injuries.

The probable cause statement we obtained from Miller County Prosecutor Matt Howard says Patrick had given Miller County authorities four different stories explaining Alexis Ward's death before finally confessing last Friday. She then told authorities she lied in the past and that she was the one responsible for Alexis's injuries.

In that statement to authorites, Patrick says she was watching Alexis on February 8 after James Ward had gone to work. Patrick says she "became upset and shoved Alexis to the ground twice from behind." She says she then "carried Alexis to the playpen...and left her there." Patrick says when James Ward returned home from work, she checked on Alexis and found the two year old having a seizure. That's when they called 911.

The probable cause statement says the University of Missouri Hospital physician on hand when Alexis was lifeflighted to Columbia told Miller County detectives, in his professional opinion, Alexis died from injuries sustained from "non-accidental trauma due to the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain", possibly due to shaking.

The felony child endangerment charge 24-year-old James Ward is facing is not in reference to his daughter Alexis Ward or her death, but rather Cheryl Patrick's seven-year-old sister.

Court documents say Ward hit Patrick's sister "in the stomach and the chest" in December of last year, "knocking the wind out of her."

This information came about during the four-month investigation into Alexis's death.

Just last month, Miller County Sheriff Bill Abbott asked the Missouri Department of Social Services State Technical Assistance Team, or S.T.A.T. Team, to assist in the investigation.

Patrick's sister told S.T.A.T. Team officials that Ward said he "would hit her harder the next time" if she ever told Patrick, her sister, that Ward likes Alexis's mother, Jennifer Ward, more than he liked Patrick.

Both Ward and Patrick were arraigned Wednesday morning. Patrick's request for a public defender was granted, while Ward's request was denied . Both will appear before Miller County Judge Kenneth Oswald for a case review. Ward is scheduled to appear next Wednesday, and Patrick the following Monday. Ward is being held on $50,000 bond and Patrick $300,000.