Doctors at Sacred Heart Medical Center knew Nevaeh Alana Miller wouldn’t make it when she arrived there on the afternoon of March 20. The baby girl had head trauma so severe that doctors said recovery was hopeless.
That was a Thursday. A priest baptized the child Friday night. The following day, seven months to the day after her birth, her parents decided to donate Nevaeh’s heart, kidneys and liver.
“We just looked them in their eyes and said ‘Nevaeh’s already in heaven. Let’s help some other child that doesn’t have to die,’ ” said Janet Stolz, the baby’s great-aunt. “She was and still is a beautiful baby because there’s three other babies that are still living because of her.”
Nevaeh died Saturday about noon after what police believe was abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Jereme J. Bassett. Bassett remains in Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bond, charged with second-degree murder.
“Jereme’s story’s been all over the place, but Nevaeh’s story hasn’t been anywhere,” Stolz said Wednesday. “It’s her time to say, ‘Hey, I was a person, and I didn’t deserve this.’ She didn’t hurt anybody.”
Stolz learned of her great niece’s condition early Friday morning. A family member called her en route to the hospital. Nevaeh’s parents, Jennifer Wilcox and Brian Miller, were already there. Miller, who Stolz said is 20 or 21, is Stolz’s nephew.
Wilcox is in a state of shock, Stolz said, while Miller is angry. Media reports of Bassett’s drug problems and troubled childhood haven’t helped, she said.
“They say ‘poor Jereme.’ Nobody has said ‘poor Nevaeh,’ ” she said. “She was this little baby girl that was a joy to her mother and her father, just a joy. Her life was snubbed out.”
Wilcox, 22, returned from work March 20 to find her baby unresponsive in the room she and Bassett shared at the West Wynn Motel. Bassett had called her earlier to say Nevaeh had fallen and hit her head but seemed OK. He told police he tried to revive the child, then smoked marijuana with two friends who were visiting.
Stolz said the two were staying at the motel while Wilcox saved for an apartment. They had been renting a place near the motel, but the landlord sold the building and they had to leave, Stolz said.
The two had been together a few months, Stolz said. Her nephew dated Wilcox for several months before Nevaeh’s birth. They remained friendly after their breakup, and Miller was “very active in Nevaeh’s life,” Stolz said.
Stolz said Nevaeh was a typical baby, “crawling and climbing on things. Learning how to form words. Experiencing new colors and new things. Just normal baby learning and growing.”
She described the weekend spent with Nevaeh in the hospital as horrible, and the details surrounding her death “mind-boggling.”
One of the most difficult parts of Nevaeh’s death was the hopelessness of the situation, Stolz said.
“You’re hoping beyond hope, yet you know nothing’s going to change,” she said. “You’re just sitting there waiting and thinking to yourself ‘Well, maybe a miracle will happen.’ But it doesn’t happen.”
The Neptune Society is cremating the child at no charge, Stolz said. Wilcox’s co-workers at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Spokane are arranging a memorial service.
Nevaeh’s Friday night baptism came with assurance from the priest that the family needn’t worry about the baby’s eternal fate.
“She has no sins. There’s nothing she could have done,” Stolz said. “She was just starting life.”