PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A GoFundMe in memory of a 10-month-old girl who police say died after being raped by her father in Lower Providence Township, has raised more than $46,000 as of Friday afternoon. Montgomery County prosecutors have charged 29-year-old Austin Stevens in the death of Zara Scruggs.
Stevens has been charged with rape of a child, aggravated assault and other related charges.
“On October 4th, 2020, our beautiful Zara Lynn Scruggs was taken from us by a monster. She deserved to grow up. She deserved to be with her family. She deserved all the amazing things in this world. She didn’t deserve to die at the young age of 10 months,” the GoFundMe says.
Officials say Zara died shortly after midnight on Sunday after she was found unresponsive around 10:40 p.m. Saturday.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele says the personnel who transported Zara to the hospital gave authorities a blood-saturated diaper that the child had been wearing.
According to detectives, Stevens conducted several Google searches on his phone of “how do you know if a baby is dead,” “if baby stops breathing,” “what if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,” and “my baby isn’t breathing.”
An autopsy revealed Zara was the victim of a sexual assault and also sustained blunt force trauma to her head. Steele says they are waiting for additional forensic results to determine the child’s cause of death as Stevens could face more charges.
“This case is deeply disturbing. It is hard to imagine this child’s death being any more traumatic: sexual assault on an infant, followed by inaction by the father to save her life, led to her death,” Steele said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Steele added there was a custody arrangement between Stevens and the girl’s mother.
A vigil is being held for the baby girl Friday evening.