WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WOOD) — Four-month-old Natallya Rich’s father is in jail and her remains are with the medical examiner, but nearly as many questions remain the day after she was found dead in the basement of her family’s White Cloud home.
Natallya’s father Matthew Bradley is being held on an unrelated weapons offense. He is expected to be formally charged with that Thursday morning. He does not currently face any charges related to his daughter’s death.
Neither does Natallya’s mother Brittany Rich, who has been released from police custody and is staying with a friend. Police told 24 Hour News 8 she is cooperating with their investigation.
Brittany Rich’s mother Heidi Thill — Natallya’s grandmother — told 24 Hour News 8 that her daughter doesn’t know what happened to her baby. Thill said Rich only found out that her baby girl was dead once she was in the back of a police car in Big Rapids.
Natallya was last seen on Saturday. Thill said that Bradley told everyone the baby was with a babysitter.
Natallya was reported missing on Tuesday morning and her remains were found late that night in the basement of Thill’s home, where Natallya and her mother lived.
“I can blame myself,” a distraught Thill told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “I was there. Why did I not know she was in my house? Why did I not know? I’m grandma. I should have known.”
Thill told 24 Hour News 8 Bradley told police precisely where to look for the baby.
“I would have to say she probably passed away Friday night because I was home all weekend long and if she passed away any time other than when I was sleeping, why did I not see it?!” she tearfully told 24 Hour News 8.
Bradley and Rich ran off Tuesday afternoon in Rich’s car. Police said both are involved with drug use — methamphetamine, Rich’s family specified. The couple was found in Big Rapids around 10 p.m.
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The Newaygo County prosecutor said it’s too early to call Natallya’s death a case of foul play. An autopsy will be performed Thursday to determine how she died.
Some of the biggest questions surrounding the case are why an Amber Alert wasn’t issued and whether the case was handled properly.
The White Cloud Police chief said repeatedly on Tuesday night that he didn’t believe that Natallya was in any danger and didn’t think the requirements for an Amber Alert were met.
“They kept saying that he didn’t think that Natallya was in any harm, any danger, when in fact she was in tremendous danger. She was deceased,” Thill said.
The chief wasn’t in his office since very early Wednesday morning to answer questions about if the case was handled properly, but 24 Hour News 8 did ask the county prosecutor.
“Any part of any investigation is always, after the fact, to determine if there’s anything more or different that could have been done,” Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Springstead said. “So at this point, I don’t have an opinion as to whether [the White Cloud police chief] handled it correctly or not.”
Thill said she’s been trying to think of anything she missed.
“There was no sign saying that he (Bradley) was going to kill his daughter,” she said. “I can blame myself, whether it’s the right thing or not to do, I can blame myself. That child was only four and half months old; somebody has to take the blame and I sure know Matthew [Bradley] won’t.”