CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly 17 years after an infant was found frozen to death in Chesapeake, police arrested Melissa Chrisman, 41, and charged her with murder and felony child abuse and neglect.
A family friend says she is not surprised.
“I was shocked because it’s sad, but if you knew her, you knew that she was involved with drugs in the past. It’s not surprising,” said Harmony Harris, 18, who says she was good friends with Chrisman’s daughter in middle and high school.
An 11-year-old boy walking in Western Branch Park found Baby Daniel January 17, 2003. The infant still had his umbilical cord attached, was wearing an oversized diaper and was wrapped in blankets.
At the time, Chrisman was 24. Baby Daniel’s death became a cold case until Chesapeake Police announced Chrisman’s arrest Tuesday after 17 years.
Chrisman has a previous conviction for possession of heroin, and others for property crimes including grand larceny, concealing merchandise and larceny third offense.
Harris says she has no doubt that Chrisman is the mother of the infant child — although Chesapeake police would not comment on that.
“She was split from her husband at the time and there’s a very good chance that it was her baby,” Harris claimed.
Chrisman is charged with murder and felony child abuse — which means she was either the parent, guardian, or a person responsible for the child’s care.
“Honestly I’m just happy if justice can be served and after 17 years we can put this to rest,” Harris said.
Chrisman made her initial appearance Wednesday by video from Chesapeake jail and did not enter any plea. She qualified for a court-appointed attorney but says her family may end up hiring a private attorney.