Just after 11:00 PM on February 13, 2020, Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a child in cardiac arrest at 1506 Centerville Road in Anderson, South Carolina, only to uncover a case of child neglect that Sheriff Chad McBride later described as “by far one of the worst ones we’ve seen.”
Inside the house, two-year-old Anastasia Wynter McAlister was dead in her bedroom, wearing a diaper absolutely stuffed with fecal matter, bearing signs of abuse and neglect. Anastasia, known to those who loved her as “Anna,” had been dead for 24 to 48 hours prior to the deputies’ arrival, according to deputy coroner Don McCown. She had severe diaper rash and severe bruising to her head, and she looked extremely malnourished, dirty, and utterly devoid of signs that she had been properly cared for.
Arrest warrants allege the children were neglected for nearly a month.
“Her death is the result of abuse and severe neglect,” said Sheriff McBride. “It’s gut-wrenching… There are hardly any words to describe how bad it is.”
Anna, who was born on June 27, 2017, was pronounced dead on February 13, 2020 at the age of two years and seven and a half months.
According to Sheriff McBride, “This is one of those types of cases you don’t want to see, ever.”
It’s bad enough reading about these cases and writing about them; I can’t imagine how traumatizing and upsetting it is for the first responders who actually see the child and witness the environment, not to mention the investigators who have to immerse themselves in these cases day after day, week after week, seeking justice for kids like Anna. My heart breaks for them, and I have nothing but admiration for them.
“There’s tragic circumstances that we deal with all the time. When it involves a child, it’s something that weighs very heavy on us and everybody that’s involved, from responding deputies to the investigators and for all of us,” said Sheriff McBride. “We’re very passionate about children… in any case where a child’s a victim, of course we’re going to pursue justice as much as we can.”
He added, “It’s hard to keep your emotions in check when you’re dealing with these kind of circumstances.”
Anna’s three-year-old brother and a three-month-old sister were found alive in the home, thank god, although both of them also suffered from severe diaper rash and “accumulated fecal matter,” and the little boy had bruising on his rear end.
The surviving children were taken into protective custody.
“There’s no reason at all. There’s no justification as to why a child would be abused like this to the point of death,” Sheriff McBride said at a press briefing on February 14. “It’s more than neglectful; it’s evil.”
Anna’s parents, 21-year-old Chasya Love Gilbody and 21-year-old Dylan Matthew McAlister, told investigators they found their daughter in cardiac arrest. No shit? If she had been dead for one to two days, that seems like a given. It never ceases to amaze me how morons like this think they’re going to pull the wool over the eyes of seasoned law enforcement and medical professionals.
The Anderson County Coroner’s Office launched an “intense death investigation,” obviously suspecting foul play.
Chasya and Dylan were immediately arrested and charged with three counts of unlawful neglect of a child by a legal custodian. Two other individuals, 21-year-old Thomas Lloyd Roberts and 17-year-old Bryahna Elizabeth Perry, were also arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child. Bryahna is being charged as an adult in the case, which is why her name and photo have been published by news outlets. Thomas and Bryahna are not related to the parents but evidently lived in the house.
At a bond hearing in February, Thomas, who faced two neglect charges, was told each charge could incur a sentence of up to ten years in jail. “I could never do anything like that to a child,” Thomas stated at the hearing. “I could never hurt a kid.”
At Dylan’s and Bryahna’s bond hearings the same day, they were also told that each of their charges could earn them a sentence of up to ten years in jail if convicted. Dylan told the judge that he supported the family by working as an over-the-road trucker, and that he had an agreement with Chasya that while he was working, she would take care of the children. “I did not know how bad things had become there,” Dylan said at the hearing. “I would never in a million years let them get that bad.”
All three were ordered not to have contact with the surviving victims. A surety bond of $10,000 was set for each offense, and each of the suspects posted bond via a bail bondsman and were released in February. Chasya’s charges were non-bondable.
Chasya is being represented by Belton attorney Kathleen Hodges. Dylan’s attorney is Bruce Byrholdt of Anderson. Thomas is represented by James Price III of Williamston.
“If there’s one comforting factor,” Sheriff McBride said, “it’s to know she is in heaven and not in pain or being abused.”
An autopsy determined that Anna’s cause of death was cardiac arrest.
After further investigation by the Anderson County Child Fatality Task Force, investigators gathered evidence that led to upgraded charges for all four suspects, each of whom now faces a charge of homicide by child abuse. They were re-arrested on Monday, April 27 and are being held at the Anderson County Detention Center. They could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted on these charges.
The Anderson County Child Fatality Task Force consists of representatives from the coroner’s office, the Sheriff’s office, South Carolina DSS, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division-SVU.
The Standard Cremation & Funeral Center in Anderson hosted a candlelight vigil to honor Anna on Tuesday, March 3. In her memory, they asked vigil attendees to bring $10 gift cards for places such as Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and other popular retailers. The gift cards were being collected for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Victim’s Advocacy Program.
I have to wonder where this whole thing went off the rails. According to their Facebook profiles, Chasya and Dylan initially met in 2013, when they both would have been either in middle school or just starting high school. They became engaged in July of 2015, and by early 2016, Chasya had given birth to their son. Just over a year later, Anna was born, and in all of the pictures I’ve found of the two kids, they appeared happy, healthy, and well cared for. What could have happened over the past month, which is the time period over which the arrest warrants allege the children were neglected? None of the three adult defendants’ mugshots show immediately apparent signs of drug use, although it’s certainly possible. It’s just so sad that a young couple could start a beautiful little family, only for the whole thing to turn into a giant dumpster fire like this, resulting in the death of a gorgeous two-year-old girl who, by all reports, was precious and utterly adorable.
Bryahna also lists herself on Facebook as engaged as of July 4, 2019, although there is no indication of who the “lucky” man may be. It does not appear to be the same young man pictured in these formal photos with her.
I want to take a moment now to remember Anna as she was in life. According to her obituary:
On June 27, 2017, a tiny girl with a massive personality came into this world. She would let you know exactly what she was thinking with her silly facial expressions and the most heartwarming smile you have ever seen. Her laugh could change someone’s day in an instant and if you wanted to see her stern stare, all you must do is call her Anastasia instead of her preferred name, Banana Bear.
She was crazy about muffins and cookies and loved to sneak over and steal some from her brother when he wasn’t looking. She was a very sharing and loving child. Her brother Hayden never wanted to share, but Anastasia would go out of her way to make sure that he had his cut of the toys.
She was the messiest, silliest eater. She would crumble muffins into her plate then pick up the crumbs bit by bit and eat them. If she had a bowl of cereal, she just had to pour it out then one by one she would put each piece back in the bowl, occasionally stopping to eat a piece.
She was so shy around new people but once she got to know you, she would pour her love out to you. She loved big long bear hugs and she loved to be held in your lap. She would lay her head on your chest and sit there in peace enjoying the moment.
She loved Mickey Mouse Club House and antagonizing her brother, who was also her very best friend. One of their favorite things was for Hayden to run around her on the trampoline and she would spin in circles following him around.
She was truly a beautiful spirit and will live on in the hearts and lives of all of those that were lucky enough to meet her.”
Rest in peace, precious girl.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Anna’s case.
Sources: WYFF4, WLTX19, Fox Carolina, Standard Cremation & Funeral Center website, The Independent Mail, WSPA 7 News, Facebook