Not yet 6 months old, a once-battered and beaten Dinah Paige Whited lay motionless in a Georgia hospital bed, where her parents — accused in the abuse that put her there — were allowed to say their last goodbyes before their baby girl took her last breath.
Her parents, Justin and Jamie Whited, were granted permission to see her Monday morning before doctors in Atlanta removed “Baby Dinah” from the machine that had been keeping her alive.
Police said Tuesday that the pair have been charged with felony murder in a child abuse case that left her small body full of broken bones and a bleeding brain and, ultimately, led to her tragic death.
“The brutal injuries that Dinah suffered over time, along with the lack of medical attention, ultimately lead to her death,” police said Tuesday in a statement.
Neither of the parents’ attorneys were immediately available for comment.
Friends and family members said the couple, who had been together since their teen years, struggled with drug abuse and domestic issues, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jamie Whited’s mother told the newspaper that her daughter had been in legal trouble for possession of methamphetamine and, police said, Jamie later admitted that she was on prescription painkillers the day her child nearly stopped breathing on her own.
Her mother said Justin Whited, who also allegedly abused drugs, was angry and controlling — once taking a swing at his wife and putting his fist through a wall.
Justin’s mother disputed the accusations.
Indeed, from the outside, neighbors said they seemed a happy family of three. “They seemed like good people,” Mary Strong, a neighbor, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month. “I didn’t see them argue.”
In April, Dinah’s maternal grandmother, Paige Carson-Barrett, posted a photo on Facebook showing the then-nearly 2-month-old.
“Look who is all dressed up and ready to go shopping,” Carson-Barrett wrote about the baby girl, who was wearing a soft, pink hat and blue floral dress. “Dinah Paige is spending the weekend with her Gammy.”
Just a week later, her young life was coming to an end.
The morning of April 23, Justin Whited dialed 911.
The parents later told police that when they woke up, their daughter was crying and gasping for air and, moments later, she stopped breathing, according to an incident report. Police responded to the family’s home in Monroe, not far from Atlanta.
When officers arrived, Justin Whited was performing CPR on the infant on the kitchen floor, according to the incident report.
“As I was talking with Justin and Jamie Whited, I was a little puzzled that they weren’t showing any emotions,” one officer wrote. “Mr. Whited appeared to be calm and collected and Ms. Whited had been standing in the doorway, emotionless.”
A neighbor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that paramedics carried the baby, who “looked lifeless,” from the house and rushed her to a nearby hospital.
Doctors determined that her brain no longer functioned, but for months they were unable remove her from life support because her father refused to consent.
Justin Whited, 23, was initially charged with aggravated battery and Jamie Whited, 24, was charged with cruelty to children. If Dinah died, the two could — and it turns out, would — be charged with her murder.
“The doctors [have] made several attempts by conference calls to the father in jail to explain this baby will never live a normal life,” Susan Ronnie Ogle, a family friend, wrote on a GoFundMe page for the child. “She will never walk, talk, or play. She has no quality of life.”
“Please continue to pray for this sweet baby girl and her family,” she added. “The decisions they face are unbearable.”
Justin Whited later agreed to allow her to be removed from life support.
Carson-Barrett, Dinah’s grandmother, wrote on Facebook in June that the infant’s family had all but lost her.
“We love Dinah Paige and will miss her everyday but under the circumstances we have been missing her for a long time already,” she wrote. “Please know how grateful and blessed we are for each and everyone of you.”
On Monday, Justin and Jamie Whited were transported from Walton County Jail to a hospital in Atlanta where, a juvenile court judge had ordered, the infant would be removed from life support and allowed to die.
Shortly after 3 p.m., police said, she took her last breath.
“Dinah went to be in the arms of our Lord yesterday at 3:31,” someone posted on her paternal grandparents’ Facebook page. “They took her off life support at 12, and she was a fighter, she hung on for a while. But we now know that Dinah is healed and happy and with our father. Our hearts are burdened and broken, but knowing where she’s at gives us peace.
“Please continue to pray for our family, but we still have a long road ahead of us with other issues surrounding Dinah.”
This story has been updated.