North Dakota Woman Charged in Brutal Death of 15-Month-Old Toddler Under Her Care

Brandi Adekele, 37, charged in alleged murder of 15-month-old, Meka Ducheneaux,
Fargo Police Department

A North Dakota woman has been charged in the brutal killing and abuse of a toddler under her care last November, officials said. 

Brandi Adeleke, 37, has been charged with one count of murder and one count of child abuse in the death of 15-month-old Meka Ducheneaux after she allegedly inflicted "numerous blunt-force injuries" on the child on or between Oct. 28 and Nov. 24, 2020 that ultimately caused her death, the Cass County State Attorney’s office wrote in court papers obtained by Inside Edition Digital.  

According to charging documents, on Nov. 20, police officers and other emergency personnel were sent to 2301 17th St S #2 to respond to a call for medical assistance. There, first responders found Mena blue in the face and unresponsive, but with a pulse, officials said. Adeleke told police she called for help after she noticed the toddler was struggling to breathe, according to the documents. Paramedics provided life-saving care to Meka and transported her to the hospital

But due to her injuries, Meka was put on life support and ultimately died four days later, officials said. 

Adeleke had been the child’s caregiver since Oct. 28, 2020, according to the case summary filed by the State's attorney. Officers spoke with Adeleke regarding  what they described as some suspicious bruising to Meka and Adeleke allegedly said the child's injuries were a result of her attempts to provide a lifesaving measure to Meka, noting she also tried to wake the child by slapping and pinching her face, according to the case summary. She said that Meka had had a fever for the last few days and was lethargic, and that about two hours before police arrived, she had given the toddler a lukewarm bath to help with the fever. Adeleke said that while left attended, Meka had gone underwater for a brief but unspecified period of time, according to officials.

After calling 911 for help, Adeleke was instructed how to do CPR until she met officers at the door, the document said. 

On Jan. 13, a final autopsy report was completed and the manner of death was ruled a homicide. Adeleke was arrested on Jan. 14. 

Muideen Adeleke, Adeleke’s husband, told authorities that Adeleke was Meka's primary caregiver and said that he was out of town at the time of the incident, the case summary said. He said that when he returned, he tried to stay out of the apartment to avoid Adeleke, according to the charging documents.

Meka's aunt told KVLY that Adeleke, who she called a family friend, allegedly told her the child had been hospitalized with COVID-19. “What did my niece do to you, but love you? She loved you so much. What did she do to you to make you so mad? And why didn’t you bring her home? When did you stop loving her?” the aunt told KVLY. “She was a good baby. There was no reason why she… She loved hugs and kisses. She would give hugs and kisses all the time.

On Nov. 24, Meka died while on life support, the case summary said. 

Adeleke is being represented by a public defender, according to the state attorney’s office. She is currently being held on $1 million cash. Her next court date is Feb. 16, according to Clerk of District Court in Fargo. 

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