INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A grieving father is now sharing his side of the story, three days after police arrested his ex-girlfriend in the death of their baby.
“I came two or three days after we buried her and I’ve been coming ever since,” said Lonnie Anders as he stood beside his daughter’s grave covered in crosses, flowers and teddy bears.
Betsy Atkison was just six months old when she died on January 31. Prosecutors say pneumonia, severe malnutrition and neglect are to blame. They have since charged her mother, DeShelle Atkison, in her death with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death and endangering the welfare of a child.
Anders did not live at the same home, but visited Betsy regularly and said he had noticed his baby's health was deteriorating. She was thin and wheezing.
“I just started crying because that’s how bad she was,” he recalled.
Anders said he begged Atkison to take their daughter to the hospital, but, “She kept saying ‘That baby’s fine. That baby’s fine,’” he said.
FOX 4 asked him why he didn’t take action by calling the police or an ambulance. Anders told us he’s not listed on Betsy`s birth certificate, so he was worried Atkison would have him arrested for taking the child without her consent.
“I wish I would've taken a kidnapping charge,” he said. “It eats at me every day.”
Overwhelmed with regret, Anders is left only with memories of little Betsy, as he wonders who she could’ve grown to become, if only given the chance.
“Just seeing little kids play and just thinking of her, wondering what she was going to be like at that age, it just kills me,” he said.
Atkison made her first court appearance Monday, she’s due in court again on June 4.