Woman accused of infant’s death at a Eudora day care formally charged with first-degree murder

photo by: Journal-World file photo

The license for Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home, 1307 Chestnut Lane, Eudora, was placed under emergency suspension after a 9-month-old baby under the facility's care died in September 2016.

A woman accused of killing an infant last fall at a Eudora day care made her first appearance in court Monday and was formally charged with one count of first-degree murder.

Carrody Buchhorn, 42, was arrested Friday at her home in Eudora.

Through a video call from the Douglas County Jail, where she is being held in lieu of $250,000 bond, Buchhorn appeared before Douglas County District Court Judge Amy Hanley on Monday afternoon. Her attorney, Paul Morrison, who is a former attorney general of Kansas and a former Johnson County district attorney, was present in the courtroom.

Carrody Buchhorn

Aside from confirming her identity when asked by Hanley and noting that she did not have any questions about the hearing, Buchhorn stood silent for her brief appearance. Hanley scheduled Buchhorn to appear before Judge Sally Pokorny later this week, at which time additional court hearings will be scheduled.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Douglas County District Court, Buchhorn is accused of killing an infant — identified as 9-month-old Oliver Ortiz — on Sept. 29, 2016.

On that day, Eudora police responded to the city’s Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home at 1307 Chestnut Lane, where Ortiz was reportedly unresponsive. He was driven by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The day care on Chestnut Lane, which was run out of a home — not Buchhorn’s — has since been closed by an emergency order from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Attempts to contact the home’s residents on Monday were unsuccessful.

The day care’s neighborhood is quiet. Garage sales peppered driveways in the area Monday.

Adina Whipple lives across the street from the day care and said she’s familiar with the business’s owner, Gina Brunton. The two would see each other at a nearby park from time to time.

At the park, Whipple said, her five children would run and jump while Brunton’s day care children were less rambunctious.

“Every time I saw her out with the day care kids they were well behaved, always in a nice line. There was never any reason for me to be concerned,” she said.

A stay-at-home mother, Whipple said she was out of the house when emergency responders headed to Brunton’s home in September. She returned to see an ambulance across the street and she was surprised to hear a child had died.

On occasion, Whipple said, she would see Brunton with a female employee, who often pushed a stroller with a small child. However, Whipple said she was unfamiliar with Buchhorn and could not say if that employee was Buchhorn.

Buchhorn’s relationship with the day care and Ortiz remains unclear.

In fact, many details surrounding the death across the street remain unclear, Whipple said.

All the same, Whipple said she does not believe Brunton would place any children in her care in harm’s way intentionally.

“She’s always been a good neighbor,” she said.

Attempts to contact Ortiz’s family on Monday were unsuccessful.

Because Buchhorn’s case is now active in Douglas County District Court, Eudora Police Detective Daniel Flick declined to comment on the details surrounding Ortiz’s death. In November, he told the Journal-World that preliminary autopsy reports led police to believe Ortiz’s death was suspicious.

Frontier Forensics, of Kansas City, Kan., the organization that handles Douglas County’s autopsies, has declined to release Ortiz’s autopsy report, citing the ongoing case.

Buchhorn does not have a criminal record in Douglas County. She is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday.