In an interview in recent weeks, Brenda Clabon, Rhythm’s 49-year-old paternal grandmother, said she would visit Rhythm and two other grandchildren who lived with Scott in a Southeast Washington apartment, a girl, 3, and a boy, 5.
Clabon’s son, Anthony Fields, 27, is the father of the three children. He and Scott broke up a few months before Rhythm died.
“Anytime I would pick Rhythm up and play with her, she would look around, and we’d play little games,” said Clabon, who is known as Bree. “We had a real good bond.”
But Clabon, who lives in Maryland and works at the Pentagon, said she also had become worried about the children, noticing dirty clothing and bruises on some of her visits.
After Rhythm died, Clabon and Fields took custody of the other two children, she said.
“It’s sad to say, it took their sister’s death to pull them out of the situation they were in,” Clabon said. “Had I known then what I know now, all three babies would be with me, and Rhythm would still be alive.”
A police report says Scott reported finding the tiny body on the afternoon of March 21, 2017, inside her apartment in the 5400 block of C Street SE in Marshall Heights.
The caller told police the baby was cold to the touch and unconscious, and she was attempting CPR. Rhythm was pronounced dead at the scene.
At the onset of the investigation, according to court papers, police said a witness told them that Rhythm “had been assaulted in the past by an older child, including with a toy.” That same person told police that the infant had been given droplets of cough syrup.
Dustin Sternbeck, the spokesman for the D.C. police, has said the allegations about the child beating Rhythm “were never substantiated.”
According to an application for a search warrant filed the day after Rhythm was found dead, police seized from the apartment a pink plastic bottle with a white liquid, a receipt from a discount store, a multicolored blanket, a fitted bedsheet, a bottle of cough syrup, Rhythm’s hospital records and a brown fabric belt.
It took months of testing before the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide by blunt force trauma.
Scott, reached before her arrest, declined to comment. It was not immediately clear if she has an attorney.
Fields said he met Scott over the Internet several years ago, and they began dating and had the three children together. After they broke up in late 2016, Fields said he saw his children every other weekend. He described Rhythm as “really playful.” He said, “Everybody loved her. She never cried that much. She was a ‘Daddy’s Girl.’ She would sit on my chest and she’d just laugh and play with my nose.”
Fields, who works at Terminex, said he warned Scott: “ ‘Make sure you take care of my kids.’ I never thought nothing of it until I got the phone call that Rhythm was dead.”
Fields said he tried to get custody of his three children. But after filing for custody in the District, he was told months later to refile in Maryland. By then, Rhythm had died.
Clabon said she saw her three grandchildren the weekend before Rhythm died. She went to Scott’s apartment and picked up the older boy and girl. She said Scott told her Rhythm was spending the weekend with a godparent.
On Sunday, March 19, Clabon said she returned to Scott’s apartment with the two children and noticed that Rhythm was unusually sluggish. “I put her down and she started crying,” Clabon said. “She never cried when I put her down.”
Two days later, Rhythm was dead.
“I beat myself up sometimes,” Clabon said. “I wonder if I could have saved her life.”