A Texas “early childhood development professional” was arrested over the weekend for endangering and medicating the children in her care. According to one grandmother who previously used her services, she is not surprised.
Last week the Mesquite Police Department received a complaint about 60-year-old Rebecca Anderson, who owns Becky’s Child Care, from a parent who placed a discreet camera on his 6-month-old son’s car seat after suspecting she was mistreating his son, Mesquite’s Sgt. Thompson told Yahoo Lifestyle. The video revealed Anderson “roughly yank” the boy out of the car seat and feed him an “unknown substance using a plastic liquid syringe,” according to the incident report obtained by NBC 5. The video also showed Anderson pick the baby up using the bib fastened around his neck.
After viewing the evidence, detectives obtained a search warrant for Anderson’s home, where she operated her daycare center, and upon arrival, Anderson told police that there were just five children in the home. However, police discovered four more — three children strapped to car seats in a dark master bedroom closet and one more in the master bathroom. The arrest warrant also said detectives found shoelace-like cords around their necks, and that some had to be cut off, according to NBC 5. Anderson admitted she used the string to limit the children’s movement.
The supposed childcare professional also admitted “she had likely given Tylenol to all of the children,” according to NBC 5, and that she “left the children in the car seats for as many as seven hours each day.” Police later found that Anderson treated the children in her care to “unnecessary doses of over-the-counter medicine, extended periods of restricted movement and poor hygiene practices.”
Keonna Oliver of Forney, Texas, was not completely surprised by the news. Her grandson Tristan was in Anderson’s care from age seven months to two years, and she had her suspicions the entire time.
“He lives with me,” Oliver told Yahoo Lifestyle of Tristan. “I went onto the Better Business Bureau website and found Becky there. I wasn’t referred by a family member or friend, I found her on their website. I was looking for daycares in the area and she came up as one of the best,” she explained. Her daughter, Tristan’s mom, just graduated college and is in the process of moving back home.
When she heard the news, Oliver immediately jumped on Yelp and left Anderson a one-star review. “So very disappointed in Mrs. Becky!” she wrote before detailing her experiences with Anderson, who she described as a “slick talker.” Anderson’s business has 11 reviews total, all of which are one-star, except two 5-star reviews from 2014 and 2015.
“I saw all the signs but I didn’t want to believe it,” Oliver told Yahoo Lifestyle. “My first mind told me to put a camera in his bag because you never were allowed to go in the house after the initial visit with her.” On her website, Anderson advertises an interview process in which they could “discuss the goals you’d like to set to foster your child’s educational growth.” She wrote that during the interview, families could tour her childcare areas, “giving you an overall impression of how your child will spend their day.”
But after that, parents were never let inside again.
“You had to wait outside and all the parents were doing it; you would see one parent waiting for their kid, she’d hand them their kid, and then you go up or vice versa. If I was at the door, another parent would wait in their vehicle until I walked away,” Oliver explained. “I just thought this was what we were supposed to do. But now I realize she kept the parents from interacting on purpose.” They also had to text her when they were on their way to get their child, according to Oliver. “I assumed she had cameras because as soon as we pulled up, the baby would be running out the door.” She described Anderson’s guidelines as “so weird.” She often had the child’s car seat waiting outside when the parents arrived. “So I asked her about it and she said, ‘Well I put it outside so you can take that to the car, and then come back and get Tristan,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that makes sense, she’s just trying to help us out.’ But really, she just didn’t want you to come inside.”
The other daycare establishments Oliver looked into said she could pop by to visit whenever, while Anderson insisted they set up an appointment, and it had to be on the weekend. Oliver said the house was spotless when she went. “The one red flag was that she had cribs and baby beds in her bedroom. And I knew that was against state regulations for daycare but I was like, if the babies are coming early … that didn’t change my mind.”
Becky’s Child Care was registered by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) in 1989 and was up for renewal in 2019. It had received zero “admin penalties,” “corrective actions,” or “adverse actions,” which “are taken when an operation has been cited for deficiencies that pose a risk to the health and safety of children, or if there are indications of a continued failure to comply with standards, rules or child care law.” During Anderson’s last inspection in December 2016, she received only one violation and it was for fire safety. In 2015, she received zero violations. “The police didn’t have any standing complaints about her and I don’t believe the DFPS had any complaints on her either,” Sgt. Thompson said.
Good reviews on the BBB and Google, and an award won Oliver over.
In 2014, the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children gave Anderson the Teacher of the Year award.
According to her website, Anderson has been serving the Mesquite area since 1995. “Caring for children is my passion. I’ve been a dedicated teacher for 37 years, and I can’t imagine a better way to spend my life,” her website reads.
“She was nice and immaculate,” Oliver recalled. “She could talk you out of your drawers. She seemed sane. She just seemed like she was exhausted.” This gave her pause. “When you pick the kid up, she was always sweating. I said to my daughter once, ‘I bet she keeps those kids asleep and has a drink or something because she’s always sweating.’” Plus, why was she always so willing to chat? “She’d come to the door and say, ‘You see that news today?’ She hates Donald Trump. She would talk to you about Donald Trump for an hour and I was thinking, You need to go inside and check on the kids.”
But Oliver sometimes wondered if there were any other kids besides Tristan, and that made her suspicious. “I never heard any other kids when I would go to the door, because sometimes I would just try to make conversation with her to see if I saw another kid by the door or at least listen for another kid, and I’d think, Tristan might be the only kid she has because I’m not seeing any other kids in that house. But often I would see parents picking them up, but where are they?” she would wonder. Anderson’s website is full of photos of happy toddlers playing outside and with toys. “I’ve never seen any of those kids in the pictures, she probably just had a photo shoot for the day.”
Turns out her suspicions were accurate. “When I saw this on the news, I said, ‘Oh my God,’ I turned around in my car three times and went and confronted this lady about bruises on my baby.” But “Miss Becky” always had an answer. “She sugarcoated it every time.”
At one point, Tristan was repeatedly getting severe diaper rashes to the point where he was bleeding and Oliver had to take him to the doctor. “But then I read there was also poor hygiene.”
In terms of the Tylenol, Oliver, who works in health care, does believe the kids were medicated, but with something else. “I don’t even believe it’s Tylenol. It had to be like Dimetapp or something to really get them to sleep. When I would pick up Tristan, he would be like, slow. He’d be tired and couldn’t get it together.”
Oliver recalled texting her about bruises once and Anderson answering, “Oh, he slid down the slide. That’s the only thing I can think of. I’m so sorry, please monitor it, if it gets worse let me know.” Tristan constantly came home with “abrasions around his neck” or a hoarse voice, his grandma said. “I would be like, Are you getting sick? No, he was probably crying for hours.”
She asked Anderson about the neck bruising a couple of times. “I called her once and said, ‘I’m in the car looking at his neck, he’s got some little, like, bruises around his neck.’” Of course, Anderson had an answer. “She said, ‘Oh, when you guys text me to tell me that you’re on your way, I put his clothes back on, because I keep them off so when I feed him they don’t get dirty, so I put his shirt on a little too rough.’ I [thought], OK, I’m gonna watch this too and see if it gets worse.” It never got worse, so Oliver put it out of her mind. “It looked like rough play, boys being boys. The neck incident happened twice. I said to myself, I don’t even want to think she’s putting something around his neck, this lady is too sweet to do that. I’m not gonna even think that.” However, that is exactly what was happening. And because of it, Tristan is traumatized.
“He just stopped going there the first week of August. He wasn’t excelling with her, that’s the reason we switched him. He wasn’t saying anything, he’s 2 and he can’t say ‘mama, da-da,’ none of that,” Oliver explained. “We even took him for speech lessons and they were like, ‘Are you guys working with him? Is he in daycare? His motor skills should be better.’ I just felt like he wasn’t learning anything with her.”
Tristan’s time at Miss Becky’s has also affected his behavior, in good and bad ways. “When we started to enforce bedtime at home, 8:30 p.m. in bed in the dark, he did not put up a fight ever,” Oliver said. “He went straight to the bed in the dark and I would be like, he can’t see in there, so I would turn on the nightlight, but he would just lay there so patient like a little angel.” She chalked it up to Miss Becky’s successful naptime procedure. “I didn’t know it was in a dark closet or dark master bathroom.”
Tristan also gets aggressive. “This baby fights, he cries, he does not want to be affectionate. If you hug him, he swings at you. If I take his tablet, he cries,” she explained. “There’s definitely trauma there. The crazy thing is, we were going to put him in counseling anyway. But now we know why.”
When they took Tristan out of Miss Becky’s care last month, it wasn’t because of abuse. “When we were getting ready to leave her she was like, ‘Please write a review on me, please give me five stars.’” Oliver told her she would. “She said, ‘You guys aren’t moving him because of me, are you?’ I told her the schedule didn’t work for me. And I told her he wasn’t progressing and she said, ‘I’m working with him. I have 5-year-olds and they know everything about science.’”
At that point, she didn’t completely distrust Anderson. “If she had not admitted to some of the allegations, I would probably be like, ‘I think something was going on but not to that extent.’ When they say she had them wrapped for restricted movement, I would have been like, ‘What do they mean? That’s crazy. I don’t think Miss Becky would do that.’ I was rooting for her.” She was tricked into thinking maybe it was Tristan who was the problem.
Oliver wasn’t the only parent expressing their thoughts about the case on Yelp. “Once upon a time, I had a review up on Yahoo, but that was way back in 2006-07 criticizing this day care, but I can’t find it anymore,” someone named Robin S. wrote yesterday. “When my kids were with her, I suspected stuff, but could never prove anything. My oldest son didn’t walk until he was almost 17 months old and then couldn’t say more than baby sounds until he was almost 3 and we put him with Child Find for a speech delay. They alerted me that no one was home when they came to work with him. I got there that afternoon infuriated and she told me she had ‘taken them shopping’.” Robin immediately pulled her son out of Anderson’s program. “My kids are teenagers now and don’t even remember her, but dear God, what did they go through? I am just so sick right now. She has been arrested for abusing the kids in her care in abhorrent ways and I simply want to hold my kids a bit closer tonight.”
Sgt. Thompson said all the kids in her custody when she was arrested were retrieved by their parents and taken to the hospital. “I believe they are all OK,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Oliver is hurt, disappointed and feels like she betrayed her daughter. “Miss Becky, come on, we put our trust in you,” she said.
Anderson was transferred to the Dallas County Jail on Sunday. And while he doesn’t know if any lawsuits will arise from this, Sgt. Thompson said “that would not be surprising.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: