Whitney and Chris Matney adored their little girl and did everything to make her happy. That’s why they immediately noticed when their daughter started acting strange. She was not acting like her normal, sweet self and nobody could figure out why. So Whitney took action and decided to put up a hidden camera in the house. After watching the video, they were immediately shocked by what the video revealed.
1. It’s a Girl!
In 2011, Whitney and Chris Matney from Springdale, Arkansas received a brand new addition to the family; Whitney gave birth to Raylee, a healthy baby girl. The new parents couldn’t be more excited to bring her home and start their new life as a family.
After everyone adjusted to the new situation, it was time for Whitney to resume her dream of finishing law school. It is always difficult for a working mother to separate from her daughter for the first time and entrust her in the hands of a caregiver. In Whitney’s case, what should have been a difficult-yet-healthy transition became a complete nightmare.
2. Getting a Good Nanny
Whitney Matney approached her nanny-hunting as diligently as possible, taking all precautions under the sun to make sure Raylee got the care she truly deserved. Thinking that appealing to friends first would be the safest option, she posted the position on Facebook.
Soon she received a message from a former high school classmate, Melissa Medema, who wrote that she was very interested in the position and would like to meet with Matney. She was happy to give Medema consideration. After all Medema, had an edge on the other candidates.
3. How Safe is Safe?
There is no way for a person to be 100 percent sure that they’re hiring the right nanny. Some people make good first impressions, but are lousy at their jobs. Others might have glowing recommendations, but recent events in their lives have rendered them incompetent or even dangerous.
“You really can’t do too much to confirm that you’re hiring the right person,” said in-home childcare expert Susan Tokayer in an interview with ABC news. “You need to do a diligent background check and digital digging.”
4. Nightmare Nannies
There are countless stories about nannies who stole, seduced husbands, abused the children, and in some horrible cases, even committed murder. Every once in a while, a nanny nightmare story surfaces on the news.
Still, no parent thinks that such a stories could happen to their family. The inhumanity of it all seems so impossible that one cannot imagine that any person they know would actually commit such horrific acts. So how could Whitney make sure that she was hiring the right person?
5. First Encounter
Whitney did what she could to ensure her baby would get the best. She could see Melissa’s Facebook profile and felt she knew her well. Second, she called Melissa’s reference, who gave her a glowing recommendation. As a final precaution, she invited Melissa to have a trial meeting with her daughter.
Whitney set the date, and when the day came, she was delighted to see that her daughter and the future nanny really seemed to hit it off. At this point, there was no reason to think anything might go wrong, and Melissa was hired.
6. The First Day
After many months of staying home and taking care of a newborn, Whitney was excited to go back out into the world. She was going back to pursue her dream of finishing law school. Naturally, she experienced plenty of anxiety—she was leaving her baby Raylee for the first time!
She reminded herself that it had to happen someday and that she did all she could to find a competent nanny. When Melissa finally arrived at the Matneys’ house, Whitney and Chris anxiously set out on their respective ways, trusting her with their precious baby girl.
7. That’s Peculiar…
When the parents came back that day, everything was just fine. All their anxiety was for nothing; Melissa had done a good job, their house was still standing, and Raylee seemed healthy and happy. At least, that’s how it seemed initially.
However, later that evening, Raylee started acted in a very strange way. For example, when Whitney entered her baby’s room, she immediately started crying and screaming, as if the very notion of someone approaching terrified her.
8. What could it be?
Whitney did not know what to make of this at the time. It could be that Raylee just didn’t sleep well the night before and was tired, or perhaps she was getting sick. It was worrisome, for sure, but it might be circumstantial. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with Melissa.
Still, Whitney couldn’t help but fight the suspicion that Raylee’s shift in behavior had something to do with the nanny. She figured that Raylee just had to get used to a stranger’s presence. Little did Whitney know what really entailed, though.
9. Change in Habits
After a short time, Melissa reported to Whitney that Raylee was taking four-hour-long naps. This struck Whitney as highly uncharacteristic behavior, since Raylee never napped for more than an hour. She was a lively child, so what had made her so exhausted?
When it comes to a child and especially a firstborn baby, parents pay great attention to every little detail, habit, and mannerism. For Whitney and Chris, Raylee was the center of their world and these little changes seemed serious. Whitney decided to seek outside help.
10. Separation Anxiety
To be on the safe side, Whitney took Raylee to the doctor to make sure that there was no hidden physical cause for her behavior. Maybe there was something causing her daughter’s pain? The doctor examined Raylee and found nothing wrong with her.
There were no signs that the baby was getting sick or experiencing any sort of pain. After learning about the recent change at home, he suggested that perhaps little Raylee was simply experiencing a case of separation anxiety.
11. A Normal Phase
Separation Anxiety occurs when a baby or a toddler shows extreme anxiety at the prospect of a parent leaving, even for a little while. It commonly begins at around six months of age and reaches a high point between 10 and 18 months.
This anxiety usually manifests itself with the infant clinging onto the parents, crying and screaming in a panicked manner when the parent leaves, as well as experiencing sleep problems. Was this the reason for Raylee’s behavior?
Sure, it was plausible that all these little things had to do with separation anxiety. However, when Raylee soon began to show behavioral symptoms that could be indubitably be traced back to Melissa’s hiring, Whitney could no longer overlook the possibility that the nanny might be to blame.
Every time Melissa would arrive, little Raylee would run over to her parents and hide behind them. This was a major red flag. It was either that Melissa’s arrival signaled to Raylee that the parents were about to leave, or that Melissa just scared her. So what was going on?
13. What to Do What to Do
A month passed until Whitney decided there were too many red flags. Something was wrong—and one way or another, she was going to find out what it was. Whitney prepared a sting operation and wryly set a nanny cam in the living room.
It looked like just another run-of-the-mill clock radio, but in reality, it had a camcorder inside and a small, almost unnoticeable lens on the side of the device. It was locked and loaded, ready to capture any unethical nanny behavior.
14. First Day on Nanny Cam
The first day in which Whitney used the camera was the last day that Melissa would ever work for the Matneys. What it caught was utterly horrific. The worried mother was shocked to her very core after watching what was captured on tape after only one day.
The minute Whitney stepped into the house, she started trembling. The hidden camera that she had point toward the living room earlier that day had been completely turned around to face the wall. Did Melissa figure out she was being recorded?
15. Fears Confirmed
Consumed with anxiety of what the device had recorded, Whitney rushed to her computer to view the material. Not in her wildest dreams would she have imagined the things poor Raylee had been submitted to all this time.
It turns out that the innocent, defenseless infant was routinely being abused. Melissa, the old classmate with the glowing references had committed a number of grave acts of abuse in only one day of recording. What else had Raylee been submitted to on all the other days?
16. Severe Neglect
As it turned out, Melissa had treated Raylee practically as if she wasn’t a human being. To Whitney’s horror, the camcorder had captured Melissa leaving poor Raylee in her baby jumper for two straight hours.
This must have caused so much suffering to Raylee. All her needs ignored as she was left thirsty, hungry, and helplessly stuck in the same position for hours while the nanny went about her business. However, that was the least of her offenses.
17. Violent Spanking and Shaking
Right in front of the nanny cam, Melissa was seen carrying Raylee in her arms and violently spanking her, apparently so she will stop her crying and screaming. But Raylee kept wailing from pain and panic.
Next, as an extreme measure to try to silence Raylee, Melissa was seen holding her at waist height and shaking her violently from side to side and in circles, until the shocked and dizzy infant stopped crying.
18. Shaken Baby Syndrome
There is actually a syndrome called Shaken Baby Syndrome which can have very serious consequences. At that tender age, such jolts can cause brain damage. It may not have obvious physical signs, but can set off long term problems, and in some cases, even cause death.
When a baby is shaken, it can cause tears in the brain, the nerves, and the blood vessels. Furthermore, if the brain clashes against the skull, this may cause swelling or bleeding. When this occurs, the child can become sluggish, develop breathing problems, or get seizures. Seeing how the nanny treated Raylee, the terrified Whitney feared her baby might suffer from this terrible syndrome.
19. Emergency Room
Whiteny was outraged, hurt, worried. She rushed to her daughter and took her straight away to the emergency room, fearing the worse. After little Raylee went through extensive examinations, the doctors broke the news.
Raylee was tougher than she looked. There was no physical injury, at least not any that could be immediately detected. But Whitney still couldn’t calm down. What about psychological harm? How could a child get over such a trauma?
20. Contacting the Authorities
Her daughter was safe and she seemed okay for now, but the dangerous nanny was still at large. Whitney called the police and told them everything that had occurred. She arranged with the officers that they ambush Melissa the next time she comes to work.
After all, in the tape Melissa is seen picking up the nanny cam, looking straight into the lens, and turning it around to face the wall. She realized she was being recorded, and she knew what the recordings captured.
21. Police Ambush
The next day arrived, and to everyone’s utter surprise, Melissa showed up. As if nothing had occurred, the brazen nanny thought she could just resume her job as if nothing had happened. However, this time, things were about to be much different.
As Melissa stepped out of the car, police arrested her. She was taken to the police station straight away, but not before Whitney managed to take a shot of her arrest through the house window. Finally, Melissa would get what was coming to her.
22. Good News Bad News
An officer who viewed the recorded evidence of the abuse told Whitney how lucky she was to have caught the abuse early on. He said if Whitney wouldn’t have acted quickly, the next abuse might have resulted in tragedy.
But Whitney received some bad news as well. Yes, she had caught the abuse in time, and yes, Melissa was in custody. To her dismay, though, she had learned that Melissa could only be charged with a Class D felony.
23. No Previous Record
Since it was Melissa’s first offense and she had no police record, she could only get the lowest felony charge, that of “endangering the welfare of a minor.” This charge meant that Melissa would never really pay for her crimes.
If found guilty, Melissa would only have to serve three months in jail and be submitted to a probation period of no more than three years. And the most disturbing thing about this bitter news, was that in three years, Melissa would have her record completely cleared of the crime.
24. Research and Awe
Whiteny was furious over the possibility of the abuser getting a measly jail sentence, a short probation period, and even the opportunity for an expunged record. Did all this mean that in three years’ time, Melissa could resume her work as a nanny? Surely, there was a way to make sure she would never be entrusted with children again.
She began to research the subject, and what she found completely awed her. There was no national registry for child abusers, meaning that once the probation period was over, there was no way to assure that other families wouldn’t hire her.
25. Speaking Out
The concerned mother felt that she had a responsibility here. She had to do everything in her power to guarantee that it would be widely known that Melissa was a child abuser and that she would never have the opportunity to abuse another child again.
First, Whitney knew she had to make her story known and speak out publicly against Melissa by any means possible. If she could get the media to spread the news, more and more people could be aware.
26. A Larger Problem at Hand
As much as she could spread her story, Whitney worried if that was really enough. After all, not everyone would be exposed to her story, no matter what kind of coverage she could get. And what about the larger problem at hand?
If Melissa could go back to babysitting after getting caught red handed on camera, what did that mean for other child abusers? How many other monster nannies were out there, free to commit horrible crimes?
27. Effecting Change
Whitney decided that a better solution was needed, one that would encompass the entire issue, not just her case specifically. So, she rolled up her sleeves and put her new law degree to immediate use.
She set out to change the reality in Arkansas by campaigning and gathering supporters. After that, maybe she could make a change on the national level. This required a lot of patience and plenty of diligent planning.
28. Pushing a New Bill in Arkansas
“We’re going to send out a bill,” Whitney told ABC News. “Arkansas will be the first state to have a registry if it passes. Everybody who’s been criminally convicted will be listed out there for everyone to see.”
If this bill passes, it would mean a huge victory. Not only would Melissa, who caused immense trauma to Whitney’s family, never be able to nanny again, but also other child abusers would be prevented from harming children.
29. Melissa’s Side of the Story
What occurred to the Matneys had happened many times before and unfortunately, other cases did not end on a happy notes like with the Matney family. Whitney’s quick action and resourcefulness stopped a tragedy from taking place.
Melissa’s side of the story was never heard. She refused to cooperate with the media or provide any explanations regarding her behavior. Her personality and motives will remain enigmatic to the public, but what’s for sure—she will never be a nanny again.
30. What About Raylee?
Fortunately, Raylee grew up healthy andseems to have completely gotten over the horrible abuse she had suffered at the hands of a monster nanny.
Speaking with ABC News about everything that had happened since this abuse was caught, you could see Whitney’s face light up. “[Raylee is] great. She is energetic, sassy, always smiling.” Even though psychological issues could always manifest later on, for now, Raylee seems to be A-OK.