Breanna Loveless was born in Delta, Utah on May 22, 1995, to Ricky Lee Sanders and Dawn Loveless Wittison. She was the youngest of three siblings, all females.
Regrettably, just nine months after her birth, the fair-haired infant girl passed away. The cause of her death swiftly became controversial.
In 1996, Breanna Loveless succumbed to pneumonia, according to her death certificate. However, bruises, tears, a broken collarbone and multiple fractures of varying ages told a different tale of abuse and torture.
“We are suspicions from the beginning because it seemed like she hadn’t been properly cared for.” It was the statement by Jim Masner, a detective from the Millard County Sheriff’s Office.
When the paramedics arrived, Breanna was in a heavily soaked diaper. It appear not changed for quite some time. Breanna’s mother, Bobbie Widdison, divorced Ricky Sanders and entered into a relationship with Ricky’s brother, Travis Widdison. Travis moved in with Bobbie and was residing there at the time of Breanna’s death. Both of them provided conflicting accounts that didn’t add up. They claimed that the 9-month-old Breanna bruised herself by bumping into the crib. Also that her broken bones resulted from wedged in between the crib bars. They also asserted that she had “brittle bone disease” and bruised easily. These explanations closely mirrored those given in the case of Baby Alissa Guernsey.
Investigators had the task of determining who harmed the little girl and how she met her demise.
Masner, who had never before investigated a case of child homicide, sought assistance from wherever he could find it. He reached out to Primary Children’s Medical Center, the attorney general’s office, and federal experts in Quantico, Virginia.
Robert Kirschner, a forensic pathologist based in Chicago who has since passed away, bridged the evidentiary gap.
The state medical examiner testified that the immediate cause of death was pneumonia. But the girl suffered physical abuse that weakened her to the point where she couldn’t fight off an illness.
Breanna’s “death is an example of fatal abuse without ‘fatal’ injuries,” wrote Kirschner in a report. “This is a common occurrence in children who have been repeatedly beaten. The pneumonia essentially acts as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
A photograph of Breanna’s mother, Bobbie Widdison.
Bobbie Widdison claims that she discovered her daughter face-down in her crib. However, prosecutors argue that the position of the baby’s body had already entered rigor mortis when the paramedics arrived. It suggests that she was on her back at the time of death.
The trial began with the interrogation of attorney Millard County deputy sheriffs. He responded to a call about a non-breathing baby at the Widdisons’ apartment, located at 395 E. 400 South, Delta, during the early morning hours of February 22, 1996.
Deputy Morris Burton stated that when he entered the apartment, the baby was “stiff and cold”. It displayed “apparent bruises on her face.”
Deputy Brett Nielson testified that Travis Widdison informed him the baby had been put to bed at 9:30 PM. Bobbie and Travis Widdison then went next door to play cards with friends. Bobbie Widdison returned at 11 PM to check on Breanna.
The deputy testified that Bobbie Widdison claimed the child was fine when she checked on her. However, the couple stated that the baby was already deceased when they returned to the apartment after midnight.
Alan Smith, a physician from Delta was on duty on February 22, 1996, when paramedics brought her. He attempted unsuccessfully to revive her.
Her examination after her death revealed to have numerous bruises, abrasions, and scratches. Additionally, she had a broken collarbone, broken bones in both arms, and one leg. Under cross-examination by Gaither, Smith testified that Loveless exhibited signs of both viral and bacterial infections prior to her death. She also diagnosed with bronchitis, which could have led to pneumonia.
A jury from the 4th District found Bobbie Widdison guilty of murder for beating Breanna to death. It convicted her on six counts of child abuse. She received five years life imprisonment. Travis Widdison also found guilty on three counts of child abuse. He received imprisonment sentence of up to five years.
Throughout the court proceedings, the Widdisons maintained their innocence.
A judge has dismissed the murder charge against Travis Widdison in the 1996 death of 9-month-old Breanna Loveless. However, murder charges and multiple child abuse charges still stand against the child’s mother, Bobbie Dawn Widdison.
So, what was the cause of Baby Breanna Marie Loveless’s death? It seems that only those who truly know are unwilling to disclose the truth.
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