Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Palm Harbor day care owner arrested in child's death

PALM HARBOR — A day care owner arrested in August on a count of aggravated child abuse now faces an even more serious charge: first-degree murder.

Stephanie M. Spurgeon, who ran a licensed day care out of her Palm Harbor home, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Friday on accusations that she shook a 1-year-old girl and caused the girl's death.

The incident happened Aug. 21, when 1-year-old Maria Harris was dropped off at Spurgeon's day care.

According to an arrest report from the Sheriff's Office, Spurgeon and the girl's grandmother both agreed that the girl was healthy when she arrived for her first and last day at the day care. Spurgeon now disputes that.

When the girl's mother arrived at the end of the day to pick her up, Maria was unresponsive. The family called 911 and took the girl to the hospital, where she was treated for serious head injuries consistent with being shaken or a similar trauma, the Sheriff's Office said.

Spurgeon, 37, was arrested the next day, Aug. 22, on a charge of aggravated child abuse. She was bailed out Aug. 23.

Maria stayed in the hospital unresponsive for eight days before dying.

The Sheriff's Office continued to investigate after the girl's death. On Friday, Detective Kelly Lyons arrested Spurgeon at her home, 830 Edgehill Drive in Palm Harbor.

She is now being held at the Pinellas County Jail without bail.

The girl's grandmother, Patricia Harris, said the family had no comment.

Spurgeon's attorney, Gregory "Skip" Olney, said his client did nothing wrong.

He said the Sheriff's Office was acting independently of the State Attorney's Office and pointed out that no charges had been filed on the child abuse arrest from August let alone the murder arrest Friday.

(Law enforcement officers make arrests and then the cases go to the State Attorney's Office. In many cases, the State Attorney's Office decides to go through with the prosecution, but in other cases it concludes that the facts do not merit a prosecution.)

"We are still in the process of investigating ourselves," said Olney, "and we are hopeful that we will be able to convince the prosecutor not to file charges in this case."

He said Spurgeon did not harm the baby in any way: "If this baby was a shaken baby it happened either before or after Stephanie Spurgeon was with the baby."

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Palm Harbor day care owner arrested in child's death 11/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque

    Crime

    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, first said the boy raped her, then changed her story, detectives say.