On September 14, 2005, our lives tragically changed forever. At 2:00 pm I received a call at work from my daycare provider saying that Hannah was not breathing and that paramedics were on their way. I arrived within minutes, but it was too late. “I’m sorry, she’s already gone,” was all that I remember an officer saying. I pleaded with him to let me hold my precious little baby, as if all the love in my heart would bring her back to life. I needed to rock her and stroke her soft cheeks as if to comfort her in death.

At some point I recall the detective asking if we knew how Hannah received the bruises and contusions on her face, in addition to the cuts inside her mouth. The marks indicated were not present when I dropped her off at daycare earlier that morning. Still in shock over our baby’s death, we now had to deal with the fact that someone had physically hurt our nine month old little girl, and possibly caused her death. The gut wrenching pain and emptiness that we have felt since that day is absolutely indescribable and cannot be put into words.

Two days after Hannah’s death, my family was again hit with shocking news. We were told that the woman that we had entrusted with our precious and beloved children was a fraud. We learned that since 2000, two children suffered spiral fractures in her care and she had been convicted of placing infants unattended in a closet for several hours at a time. In 2001, the sitter and her husband were convicted of identity theft. They had used the personal information of several parents whose children were in her daycare to obtain credit cards and loans. It was also discovered that she did not have a daycare license, as she had portrayed, and had 21 children in her “care” on the day that Hannah died. The anger and betrayal that we felt, compounded with our grief, was unbearable.

On June 29, 2006, Anne Marie Cardinal was sentenced to serve 10 years in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center for 10 convictions of operating a daycare facility without a license. However, despite the autopsy report that the abrasions and contusions on Hannah’s face were suggestive of a smothering, no one has yet been charged with her death. We are waiting for the day when charges come forth and the person responsible is finally held accountable.

We are now in the process of lobbying our legislature with hopes of allowing parents to access the National Child Abuse Registry, currently being developed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the US Government. Accessibility to this registry is essential when deciding who to employ to care for and nurture life’s most precious gifts – our children. Please join us and contact your State's representatives concerning public access to this database. Hopefully, we can help other parents avoid enduring the same pain and suffering to which we’ve been subjected, from the hands of a repeat child abuser.