Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Former day-care-center operator sentenced in boy's drowning death

Tianna Edwards received credit for time served, but still has a federal sentence to serve.

Tianna Edwards.
Tianna Edwards.Read more

A FORMER day-care-center operator who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 7-year-old boy who drowned in a murky pool was sentenced yesterday to 11 1/2 to 23 months in county jail, plus 10 years of probation.

Tianna Edwards, 32, who already has spent 22 months in county custody, was given credit for time served by Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart.

Minehart took into account that Edwards was sentenced in November in federal court on a related case to five years, three months in federal prison, and still must complete that sentence.

On June 29, 2012, Edwards had taken kids enrolled at her Tianna's Terrific Tots day-care center on Rising Sun Avenue near 13th Street in North Philly to her mom's house on 8th Street near 66th Avenue in East Oak Lane. Her mother, Emma Watson, wasn't home.

Edwards then left the kids - six toddlers and 15 school-age kids - in the care of two day-care workers who were untrained and unlicensed to care for children, and left to do something else.

The kids were playing in the murky, backyard, in-ground pool; 7-year-old Isear Jeffcoat disappeared and later was found drowned.

The boy's mother, Tamisha Madalion, 32, tearfully told the judge yesterday that the only thing she could think was, "How could this happen?"

Edwards apologized to Madalion and said she loved Isear as if he were her own son.

In addition to the involuntary-manslaughter charge, Edwards pleaded guilty in December to a count of endangering the welfare of children and welfare fraud.

Her welfare-fraud charge related to her applying for and receiving $13,200 in public-assistance benefits, including food stamps, when she wasn't eligible. Minehart ordered her to repay that money to the state Department of Public Welfare when she is on probation.

Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley said afterward: "This whole case was really about greed. We do believe the defendant cared greatly about all the children in her care. However, she was motivated by money and not motivated to provide a safe environment to these children. Her negligence caused that accident."

Edwards' federal case related to her operating two day-care centers when she wasn't eligible because of her criminal past. She had obtained licenses to operate the centers by forging her sister-in-law's name as owner and operator, and had defrauded the state of nearly $1.5 million in funds she received to provide subsidized child care.