Filings describe cries, bloody scene
Nanny furnishes contrasting account
The toddler’s cries carried upstairs and did not subside. For nearly an hour, Rehma Sabir wailed. Around the time that her mother left for work, her cries grew louder still.
Hearing the noise, a neighbor rapped on the apartment door, timing her knocks with the baby’s gasps for air. But no one answered.
Finally, Rehma’s cries slowed, then stopped. The neighbor would later tell investigators that she did not hear the 1-year-old again.
Court documents made public Wednesday provide that grim account of the hours leading up to the alleged assault on the toddler, who died of head injuries two days later. Aisling McCarthy Brady, the girl’s 34-year-old nanny, had “sole custody of and contact with” the child during the time authorities believe the girl was injured, the documents assert. She is charged with assaulting the child.
A search conducted the day after Rehma died uncovered blood stains on a pillow and blanket in her crib and on discarded baby wipes. Her parents, Sameer Sabir and Nada Siddiqui, had authorized the search of their Cambridge apartment.
Investigators also found that part of the wall beside the changing table had been broken off, damage consistent with “forceful contact” from the table corner. Police were told the damage was not there before.
A specialist who diagnosed Rehma as a victim of abusive head trauma said in her opinion “there is no other explanation for Rehma’s head injuries or death,” the report stated.
Brady, an Irish native who is in the country illegally, has maintained her innocence and is devastated by the child’s death, her lawyer said. The just-released court documents also offer her account of events on the day of Rehma’s death:
According to the court document released Wednesday, Brady, told police she arrived at the Cambridge apartment around 7:50 a.m. Jan. 14. Rehma awoke at 8:15 a.m., and Brady described her to investigators as “cranky as usual.”
Brady said Rehma had napped from about 10:20 a.m. until 1 p.m., when she put her in a highchair for lunch. Brady described Rehma as a “fussy eater who sometimes held food in her mouth for up to an hour.’’ Though she also described the girl as “otherwise happy and normal” at least until her 1:30 lunch.
The child had two or three spoonfuls of potatoes and eggs, along with a bottle. Brady briefly stepped out of the room, and returned to find Rehma “slouched’’ in her chair with her eyes half-open, Brady said.
Brady told police she then put Rehma into her crib to resume napping, leaving her there until around 4:15 p.m. when she became concerned with the duration of the nap and went to wake the child.
Brady said she found Rehma in her crib, clenching her fists, her arms and legs stiff. When she picked Rehma up, “she appeared limp,’’ the report stated. Brady got a wet cloth and placed it on Rehma’s head, then called 911. Paramedics found the girl breathing but unconscious.
Investigators said they believe that the girl’s injuries must have occurred sometime after 1:30 p.m. and before 4:30 p.m., because Brady told them the girl had been alert and playing earlier in the day.
“Rehma would not have appeared ‘normal’ after the infliction of injuries,” the report says, attributing the assessment to Dr. Alice Newton. “Specifically, she would not have been able to track people with her eyes, sit on her own, play with toys, hold a bottle, drink a bottle, or eat food.”
Tests indicated that Rehma sustained massive brain swelling and found several bone fractures between two weeks and two months old.
“The head injuries, however, were acute,” the report stated.
On the day of the alleged assault, Brady was also in charge of a second child as part of a nanny share. When the 7-month-old boy was dropped off, around 12:30 p.m. Brady told the parent that Rehma was asleep in her room; the parent did not look. The second child was unharmed.
The court documents are redacted to protect the name of the witnesses, but because of the redactions, it is difficult to tell how many other people visited the apartment that day, and the identity of any visitors is unclear. Prosecutors declined to comment on the report, and Brady’s lawyer did not return phone calls Wednesday.
Prosecutors have said they expect to press homicide charges against Brady once an autopsy is complete. The chief medical examiner’s office said Wednesday it is awaiting test results to determine the cause of death. Brady is being held on $500,000 bail.
Rehma’s parents have not spoken publicly since Brady’s arrest, and could not be reached for comment. But in a statement issued by the Middlesex district attorney’s office, the child’s parents made a public appeal for privacy.
“The family of this child is going through unimaginable pain and suffering, and their well-being remains a priority for us,” the statement said.
The district attorney’s office said it issued the statement at the family’s request.
“Very few can fully understand the sorrow and pain that they are enduring, and we all need to allow them the appropriate time and support they require to cope with this tragedy,” the statement read.
Sameer Sabir cofounded MoMelan Technologies, a Cambridge life sciences company, in 2009. Josh Tolkoff of Brookline, a former director of MoMelan, said he met Sabir about four years ago and praised his character and business skills.
“I think he’s a terrific guy, I think he’s smart, he’s thorough, and he’s been very honorable in all my dealings with him,” said Tolkoff. “He’s still in mourning. My heart goes out to him.”
Brady, who came to the United States in 2002, had cared for Rehma for six months. A nanny for more than a decade, Brady was accused of assaulting a female roommate in 2007 and was the subject of two restraining orders.
She married a 38-year-old Irish native in September at St. Brendan’s Church in Dorchester, according to their marriage certificate.
The couple hosted young adults visiting from Ireland for internships as youth and community workers, said Ronnie Millar, deputy director of the Irish International Immigrant Center.
“There’ve never been any issues with Aisling,” Millar said. “It was always a very positive experience.”
The Irish Daily Star, an Irish newspaper, reported that Brady’s father died four years ago, and her younger brother was killed in a car accident 12 years ago.
The paper said Brady’s mother, Margaret, had in recent days left Ireland for the United States.