WARNING: This story contains graphic and disturbing content.
The babysitter who alerted authorities to a horrific case of child abuse in Edmonton is sharing her story.
Justice Taylor accepted a babysitting job in December 2017, expecting it to be a normal night. There were five children under her watch — two from one mom, and three from another.
“I had babysat them one time about four months prior,” Taylor said. “At that time, they were all in good condition, they all seemed happy. They were such good kids, so fun,” she said.
Taylor was hired to watch the children as they slept between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Their moms were going out partying.
“Before they had left, they told me the girls are in the basement,” Taylor said. “‘They are sleeping and if they want to come up, don’t let them because they’re in trouble.’ And before they had left, they pushed the dresser in front of the door, and automatically, that was a red flag. Why are you locking your children in the basement?”
Within seconds of the door closing behind the moms, Taylor said she heard a knocking coming from the basement door.
“The older girl, she remembered me from last time I had babysat. She called out to me and said, ‘Justice, is that you? Are my parents gone?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s me.’ And she said, ‘Can you let us up? We’re hungry.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ So I pushed the dresser out of the way and I was shocked at what I saw.”
Two little girls, aged three and six, were trapped in the unfinished basement. The only furniture inside was a mattress. Taylor said the room reeked of urine. But what stood out most was the abuse.
“The older daughter had a big bruise on her neck that looked like she was hit with something,” she said. “She had dried blood on her lips, her hair was a mess. She was in very ragged, loose-fitting pajamas.
Taylor fed the girls and then took video of their injuries before texting their moms and inquiring what had happened.
“They told me she fell down the stairs and was hurt,” Taylor said. “They were going to take her to the hospital the next day or something.
“The daughter had told me she fell through a sliding glass door at a birthday party. So I thought these stories are not adding up.”
It turns out the little girls had been repeatedly beaten with a belt and one had been confined inside a cardboard box on multiple occasions.
“The older daughter had cried to me. I cried with her. It was very emotional,” Taylor said.
“She was laying across me and I was holding her and rubbing her head. She was telling me, ‘When you leave, can you lie to my mom and say we’re going for a walk? Can you keep me at your house forever? I love you. I don’t want you to leave me.'”
At this point, Taylor was already planning to call the police as soon as she got home.
“I told her, ‘I’m going to leave, but I promise you’re going to be safe when I leave. Someone is going to come and get you.’ She was like, ‘Do you promise?’ I said, ‘I promise.'”
Within six minutes of Taylor calling 911 and sending police her video documenting the girls’ injuries, officers arrived at the house.
In court, an agreed statement of facts noted the first officer on scene found all five children barricaded in the basement.
A paramedic arrived soon after, taking all five children to the Stollery Children’s Hospital where doctors discovered a myriad of injuries on two of the girls.
Meanwhile, police arrested the two mothers, both of whom are in their mid-20s.
“This is the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen,” Taylor recalled.
“I’ve never seen a child injured that much, even in a movie or a TV show, so it was traumatic for me. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I was shocked. I cried. I couldn’t breathe.”
Taylor said she hasn’t seen the girls since that day, but that she still thinks of them often and prays for their well-being.
“I want them to know that I am glad that they are OK. I’m glad that they are safe, they’re strong and beautiful and they are going to grow up to be great, great women,” she said. “And this traumatizing experience that has happened to them doesn’t define who they are.
“They can go against the odds and rise up from the situation that happened.”
The moms, who have remained in custody since being arrested, recently pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and unlawful confinement. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
“I’m hoping that they are in jail for a while, because I want the kids to feel like they’re safe.”