The White House has shut down a petition to publicly execute a West Virginia man accused of the violent sexual assault and murder of his girlfriend's baby daughter.
Benjamin Taylor, 32, was arrested Tuesday after the child’s mother allegedly discovered him and her baby lying on the basement floor at about 5 a.m., investigators said.
The 9-month-old, named Emmaleigh, was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.
Thousands signed a petition calling for Taylor's death by hanging in the hours after Taylor's arrest.
"Prison is too good for child rapists and their ilk. I would move to say that our 'justice system' is even a part of the problem, in that incarceration is hardly justice when it comes to such an awful act," the petition read. "Let us hang these creatures publicly. Let us make examples of them, and allow the American people to attend these hangings so that the accused may be ridiculed."
But as the petition closed in on the 100,000 signatures needed to get an official White House response, it was yanked from the website.
"The petition you are trying to access has been removed from the site per our Moderation Policy, because it was in violation of our Terms of Participation," the We the People site now reads.
West Virginia abollished the death penalty in 1965.
At a brief court hearing Wednesday, a magistrate read a long list of injuries sustained by the baby, whose body was bruised, bloodied, shaken and strangled, he said.
Taylor sat emotionless and did not enter a plea. He is being held on $2 million bail.
The family of Emmaleigh Barringer released a statement after her death, thanking Jackson County police for their investigative work.
“Finally, we would like to assure anyone with any doubt, that this crime against an innocent child was solely perpetrated by a monster who had disguised himself as a caring and supporting friend.
“Emmaleigh's mother and surviving siblings were victims in this and are guilty only of placing trust in the hands of a "wolf in sheep's clothing,” the statement said.
The mother told police she had found Taylor and her baby in the basement with the lights off.
He initially told detectives he had “blacked out,” after taking the child downstairs with him to do laundry Monday night after everyone else in the apartment had gone to sleep, authorities said.
He later said he did not know how the baby became injured, investigators said.
According to a criminal complaint, Taylor sexually assaulted the baby and caused life-threatening injuries during the attack, WOWK-TV reported.
He also made no effort to save the child’s life after the assault, the complaint said.