3 charged after malnourished 5-year-old girl dies in Indianapolis

Posted at 3:41 PM, April 16, 2024 and last updated 3:02 PM, April 18, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (Scripps News Indianapolis/Court TV) — Three people are facing charges after a 5-year-old girl died due to severe neglect.

Kinsleigh Welty was taken to a hospital after officers found her unresponsive in her home on April 9. She was pronounced dead at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.

Her mother, 29-year-old Toni McClure, was arrested on charges of murder and child neglect resulting in death. McClure’s boyfriend, 27-year-old Ryan Smith, is charged with child neglect resulting in death. Days later, police also arrested the child’s grandmother, 53-year-old Tammy Halsey, on charges of neglect.

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Kinsleigh Welty (Scripps News Indianapolis)

Police said Kinsleigh was kept in a closet that had small handprints of what appeared to be feces on the door. There was also soiled clothing and a strong smell or urine. The malnourished child had sunken eyes and feces on her feet and in her hair when she was found. She also had what appeared to be lice crawling on her face, according to court documents obtained by Scripps News Indianapolis. Hospital officials said Kinsleigh was so malnourished, she weighed more at two-and-a-half years old than at five.

Authorities said McClure has a history with the Department of Child Services. Kinsleigh’s grandparents, Tricia and Brian Welty, told Scripps News Indianapolis the warning signs of the child’s failing health were reported but say DCS let them down and they want accountability.

“We just don’t want her death to be in vain. We want change. We don’t want any more kids to have to die because of the failure of the system,” Tricia Welty said. “She was in our home, and she was safe, but she was handed back to her abuser and she’s not here anymore.”

The Weltys say Kinsleigh temporarily lived with them twice after other reports of mistreatment.

In 2018, McClure was formally charged with neglect when Kinsleigh was just a baby.

The officer said the home was in one of the worst conditions he’d ever seen and noted a three-week-old that appeared to be malnourished. The family says that was Kinsleigh.

McClure served 21 days in jail for that case.

“When she came to us the second time, she was bruised from head to toe. She had chunks of hair missing throughout her whole head and she was given back. She already tried to starve her to death when she was three-weeks-old and they gave her back,” the Weltys said.

Following a welfare check in 2021, the grandparents said they were fearful Kinsleigh would die.

“I pleaded with DCS before that court case and my concerns about every bit of it were ignored,” Tricia Welty said.

According to police reports, just before Kinsleigh died, DCS was at the house following McClure’s newborn testing positive for THC. Kinsleigh did not test positive.

McClure allegedly said Kinsleigh frequently expressed that she wanted more food or that she was thirsty but had a desire for her to be out of her life.

The Weltys want DCS to improve its reunification process.

“The child’s safety should be the priority. It shouldn’t be getting them back to the parent if that person isn’t right. They failed her.” Tricia Welty said.

Scripps News Indianapolis has reached out to DCS over the past few days for comments, but a law that took effect in 2019 prevents the agency from releasing records on a child’s death until after the criminal case is resolved.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story named the mother’s boyfriend and co-defendant as Thomas Smith.