Kayleigh Slusher was like any normal three-year-old; spunky, fun and extremely outgoing. Many described her as having a sparkle in her eye, and a zest for life. Although her parents were not together, Kayleigh still appeared to be a happy and healthy toddler.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh getting ice cream with her father
Sara Kruger, Kayleigh’s Mom, along with Kayleigh’s father, Jason Slusher, split time caring for her. When Kayleigh was with her mother, she also was cared for by Sara’s boyfriend – Ryan Warner. While Kayleigh and Ryan were not particularly close, there were no obvious problems between the two.
One day though, this all changed when neighbors started to notice a change in Kayleigh.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh out with one of her best friends
A neighbor in the apartment complex, where Kayleigh lived with her mother, noticed Kayleigh looking malnourished.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh and Sara
No one was quite sure what was going on behind closed doors, however, sooner rather than later they would find out. What was going on would shock everyone in the Napa, California community.
Kayleigh’s maternal grandmother, Robin Slusher, had become alarmed upon seeing her, weeks leading up to her death, and decided to contact the authorities.
Robin explained to social workers and authorities her concerns that Kayleigh was being abused.
Facebook; pictured above is Sara and Ryan’s apartment complex
Despite Robin’s attempts, authorities found nothing that gave them cause to remove Kayleigh from the home.
Sara had been investigated by child protective services in the past but still, that did not give authorities enough reason to further investigate her.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh playing in the parking lot of the apartment complex
Days after making this call though, authorities would find Kayleigh dead.
The investigation of the couple would officially begin when authorities received a call from Sara and Ryan’s friend – asking them to check on the welfare of Kayleigh.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh on one of her trips to the diner with her Grandpa
Their friend, whom renamed nameless, told authorities he had gone over to the couple’s apartment and discovered that Kayleigh was dead.
Sara and Ryan refused. Prompting him to call the “call the police.”
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh snuggling with her cat
After learning their friend had called the police, Sara and Ryan fled their home.
By the time authorities arrived at the couple’s apartment, they found Kayleigh lying on her bed, partially frozen.
Facebook; pictured above are the purple ribbons that were tied around Napa to remember Kayleigh
It was determined that Kayleigh had died two days before authorities arrived at the scene.
Kayleigh had died a slow, painful death, and after she died – Sara and Ryan shoved her body in a duffel bag and placed Kayleigh in the freezer.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh with her grandfather at work
When authorities found Kayleigh, they discovered that Kayleigh had 41 distinguishable injuries. There were bruises all over her tiny body. What ultimately killed Kayleigh though, was a rupture to her small intestine.
Authorities determined that Kayleigh’s death was not a quick process. A medical examiner explained Kayleigh was in immense pain and suffered a lot during the time of her death.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh with Jason
After finding Kayleigh, the next mission for authorities was to find Sara and Ryan. Luckily for authorities, people in the community were on the lookout for the couple. A woman spotted the two at IHOP.
They were arrested at a gas station.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh hanging out with her best friend
When authorities began questioning Sara and Ryan about what happened to Kayleigh, they basically had no answer.
At first, they tried to say she had drank something poisonous and that’s what killed her.
Authorities knew this wasn’t true.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh on Easter Sunday
When asked why Kayleigh was covered in bruises and had so many injuries on her body, the couple had no explanation.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh during a photo shoot
During their trial, the couple’s attorney admitted that both Sara and Ryan had been using methamphetamine leading up to Kayleigh’s death.
Their attorney believes that their use of meth played a huge role in what happened to Kayleigh.
Both Sara, and Ryan, will serve life in prison for the death of Kayleigh.
Facebook; pictured above are Sara and Ryan
While, Kayleigh’s grandmother, Robin, and father, Jason, blame Sara and Ryan for the death of Kayleigh – they also partially blame the state of California.
Robin had tried multiple times to save her granddaughter but, the state’s social workers and authorities did nothing.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh with her friend at the playground
In the months that Kayleigh lived in the apartment with Sara and Ryan, authorities were dispatched there five times.
The last three visits were during the final two weeks of her life.
Robin strongly believes, authorities and social worker “had done their jobs, Kayleigh would still be here.”
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh in car
Robin, and Jason, decided to sue Child Welfare Services. Jason has said that while winning the case will not bring Kayleigh back he wants “to make sure no child ever suffers the way Kayleigh did.”
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh showing off her outgoing personality
While Child Welfare Services maintains they followed protocol for suspected child abuse during that time – they ultimately decided to settle the case. In addition, they have made vast changes to their policies for reporting suspected child abuse.
In order to further prevent a tragedy like this from happening again, authorities have updated the training protocol for officers.
Facebook; pictured above is Kayleigh on Halloween
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