published Friday, May 30th, 2014

Toddler death suspect extradited to Catoosa County

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    Saharah Weatherspoon is the little girl who died of injuries received while in foster care in Ringgold, Ga.

Former foster care mother Clara Louise Edwards on Wednesday made the 14-mile trip from her jail cell in Hamilton County to the one in Catoosa County, Ga., where she is charged with murder in the death of a toddler who was in her care.

Edwards, 59, charged last week with murder in the New Year's Day death of 2-year-old Saharah Weatherspoon, is now in Catoosa County custody after a five-month state and local investigation, according to officials at the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.

Jail officials said she is being held without bond.

Edwards' arrest on May 23 stemmed from an investigation that began in the wake of Saharah's death from injuries she suffered on Dec. 29, 2013, from what was described by a foster parent as a fall down stairs at their Ringgold, Ga., home, according to documents the Times Free Press obtained from the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.

An autopsy showed evidence of bruising on Saharah's back, arms, face and torso, and she had "retinal hemorrhages and both new and old brain bleeding," case documents show.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials determined that the cause of the toddler's death was craniocerebral trauma and the manner of death was homicide, Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said last Friday during a news conference on Edwards' arrest.

On Feb. 5, 2013, Saharah and her older brother were taken from their mother, Jennifer Palmer, after the children's father, Ellis Weatherspoon, stabbed Palmer in the neck multiple times in front of them at their home in McCaysville, Ga., and then fled with the children to a camper trailer. At the trailer he attempted to start a fire and wound up being taken into custody. The children escaped injury.

Documents state that the foster parent told authorities on Dec. 29 when Saharah suffered what would become fatal injuries that medical help was not sought for seven hours. Saharah died two days later.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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