The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Baby Maliyah 'happiest, brightest little girl'


Courtesy photo

Maliyah Jones would have turned 2 in September

PORTALES - Maliyah Jones was only 22 months old, but she'd already developed an irresistible personality.

"She was the sweetest, happiest, brightest little girl," said Janet Bradley, the toddler's cousin.

"She was very talkative for her age, very smart, she remembered you, just so sweet."

Maliyah died Tuesday after police said she was left in a hot vehicle for about 90 minutes by a daycare worker.

A second child, whose name has not been released, was in critical condition Wednesday morning in a Lubbock hospital in connection with the same incident.

Bradley said Erika Tafoya, Maliyah's mother, spent several weeks researching daycare facilities before deciding Taylor Tots could be trusted with her daughter's well-being.

Erika moved to Portales from Tucumcari last fall, Bradley said, to take a job as a dental assistant.

"No one expects to drop a child off and go to work and get called and told your child will be fighting for her life and then pass away ... This is heartbreaking for all of us. It's just a horrible thing that happened due to someone's neglect and stupidity."

Daycare operators Sandi Taylor, 31, and her mother, Mary E. Taylor, 62, have been charged with child abuse resulting in death.

Both were in Roosevelt County Detention Center on Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Mark Jones of Canyon, the brother of Sandi Taylor, said Wednesday morning the daycare is closed and will not reopen.

"We feel the loss, too," he said.

"We're mourning, too. It's just a horrible accident and I don't know where we go from here."

Bradley, who lives in Dixon, California, said she saw Maliyah and Erika two weeks ago at a family reunion in Tucumcari.

"She had a baby doll that she just loved. She was such a happy little kid."

- Staff writer Stephanie Losoya contributed to this report


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