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First girlfriend, now grandmother charged in beating death of 3-year old in Lancaster

Kayla Cook of Lancaster. Cook was charged last week with homicide by child abuse in the December death of Lillian Schroeder, 3. Cook was Lillian’s father’s girlfriend. Schroeder’s grandmother is now charged with unlawful conduct toward a child after she allegedly did not comply with a social services agreement to be the caregiver for Lillian, then lied to police and state agents about it.
Kayla Cook of Lancaster. Cook was charged last week with homicide by child abuse in the December death of Lillian Schroeder, 3. Cook was Lillian’s father’s girlfriend. Schroeder’s grandmother is now charged with unlawful conduct toward a child after she allegedly did not comply with a social services agreement to be the caregiver for Lillian, then lied to police and state agents about it. File, The Herald

Following the shocking arrest of a father’s girlfriend for allegedly beating a 3-year-old girl to death, Lancaster police have charged the child’s grandmother with allowing the child to be unsupervised, then lying to social services and police.

Tracy Helms Schroeder, 48, of Lancaster, is charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, arrest warrants show. Lillian Schroeder, 3, died Dec. 18 after what police said was a beating to her head that caused brain bleeding and other fatal injuries.

Tracy Schroeder, of Catalina Court in Lancaster, had not seen Lillian in more than two weeks when Lillian died – despite Tracy agreeing to be the caregiver for the child, police said.

Lillian’s brain injuries were so severe she “died within minutes of this head injury,” police said.

Kayla Cook, 29, the live-in girlfriend of Lillian’s father, remains in the Lancaster County jail without bond after her arrest last week on a charge of homicide by child abuse. Lillian died from blunt force trauma to the head, coroner officials said.

Cook was “primary caregiver” and was babysitting Lillian while Lillian’s father was at work at the time Lillian died, police said.

Yet police now say that Cook never should have been the caregiver because Tracy Schroeder was supposed to be watching the child.

Tracy Schroeder signed an agreement Sept. 1 with South Carolina Department of Social Services officials to be the primary caregiver of Lillian, an arrest warrant against Tracy Schroeder states. But Tracy Schroeder “knowingly broke the agreement” by allowing Lillian to live with Lillian’s father and Cook, according to the warrant.

More, Tracy Schroeder, “purposefully lied to DSS workers throughout their investigation” about Lillian’s care and who had Lillian, police said.

After Lillian died, Tracy Schroeder then lied to DSS agents and police about living in the Heath Circle home in Lancaster, and allowed Cook to take care of Lillian while Cook was unsupervised, arrest warrants allege.

Schroeder was arrested and later released on bond, Lancaster jail officials said.

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