WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A Kent County grand jury handed out a secret and sealed indictment Wednesday, charging the parents of a 7-month-old baby with second-degree murder.
The indictments against Ryan Beeley, 38, and Mariah Ramos, 34, were unsealed at Kent County Superior Court Thursday when the defendants were arraigned.
The parents had initially been charged in family court with cruelty to or neglect of a child in the death of their daughter Willow Beeley on Feb. 21. A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the upgraded charges.
Both Beeley and Ramos pleaded not guilty to the new charges and both were ordered to be held until a bail hearing June 15. The two are charged separately, not as alleged co-conspirators.
Willow was found unresponsive inside her home on Warwick’s Airway Road. Police said the baby was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and pronounced dead. The Rhode Island Department of Health ruled earlier this month the child died as a result of asphyxia due to overlay.
In February, police said they executed search warrants at the family’s home and uncovered what they described as “relatively deplorable conditions.”
Michael Lepizzera, the attorney representing Ramos in the neglect case, told Eyewitness News he was “absolutely shocked” and “perplexed” by the murder indictment. He said Ramos denies the charges.
“The evidence will show that she was not in the house at the time,” Lepizzera said. He said he had not seen any of the state’s discovery materials related to the charge, so he could not comment further.
The public defender representing Ryan Beeley could not immediately be reached.
The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) confirmed to Eyewitness News they had twice investigated the family following tips made through the Child Abuse Hotline. The DCYF said in both cases the allegations were unsubstantiated.