Alissa Guernsey was born on November 2, 2007 in Columbia City, Indiana and was the youngest of three siblings. She was a happy baby girl who had just celebrated her first birthday in November of 2008. Sadly, that same month her father, Michael Guernsey, was killed in a fatal car accident.
Alissa’s mother, Kelli Sprunger, was devastated at the loss. She had a history of drug dependency and depression and felt the death of her children’s father was too much to handle and that she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to properly care for her three kids so her cousin, Christy Shaffer, volunteered to “care” for them while she got back on her feet.
But Sprunger didn’t get back on her feet, instead, she fell deeper into depression which caused her drug addiction to spiral out of control. She was also barely keeping in touch with DCYF/caseworkers. She was thankful that Christy volunteered to help watch over her kids when she could not.
Photo of Kelli Sprunger with a small heart-shaped photo of her daughter, Alissa, in the corner
Alissa and her brothers were placed into state custody in Steuben County, IN. Shortly after, they were placed under the care of Matt and Christy Shaffer in Topeka, La Grange County, IN.
The Shaffer’s were not properly screened to see if they qualified as guardians but because they were relatives, DCYF figured that would suffice.
Prior to being placed with her aunt, Alissa Guernsey looked like your typical happy, healthy, bubbly baby girl. She was getting on her feet and all it took was a smile to get her to smile back. She was entering the early toddler stages of her life and like any young child, she loved exploring and playing with her brothers. But in the weeks ahead she would change to a completely different child. She would look battered, scared and withdrawn.
Alissa’s appearance before and after being placed in Christy Shaffer’s (far right) care
Shaffer immediately singled out Alissa, which was most likely due to her age and the fact that she was the most defenceless of the three children. Alissa had just celebrated her first birthday and being just one, she wasn’t able to speak and Shaffer liked the idea of having her own silent punching bag.
Alissa was harassed and yelled at on a daily basis. She was pushed if she wasn’t moving fast enough, shoved if she was in the way, pinched just for the mere heck of it, kicked, slapped, etc. You name it this little girl endured it.
Alissa had cigarettes placed out on her multiple times but one of Shaffer’s favorite things to do was grab her by her hair and smash her little head against anything that was convenient and if there wasn’t anything convenient she would use the floor. By January 2009 her hair had bald spots due to being ripped out and she had bruises from head to toe, each in different stages of healing which help authorities later determine that the little girl was tormented over a long period of time.
Shaffer was extra callous and manipulating. To avoid detection she started taking Alissa to doctors to try to find some type diagnoses, telling the doctors that she bruised easily and that her hair was falling out. She had been to specialists in Elkhart and Riley’s Children Hospital, none of which could ever find anything medically wrong with her after multiple rounds of blood testing.
During this time Christy Shaffer kept Alissa’s mother from visiting with her, but not with her other two children. She always made excuses, telling the mother that Alissa was sick or sleeping.
Staffer wanted people to believe that Alissa had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or was born a meth/crack addicted baby and that was the reason she was “clumsy and always bruised” – According to the doctor and tox screen reports. Alissa was perfectly healthy. You can clearly see the before and after pictures of Alissa, she was perfectly happy and healthy with her mother, and turned in to a different baby with Christy Shaffer.
Alissa’s little body put up a fight for three long torturous months until one day she finally succumbed to the brutality that was unleashed upon her by her own aunt.
On March 28, 2009, Shaffer was driving, Alissa was in her car-seat behind her. There were other children in the vehicle including Alissa’s two brothers. Sometime during that car ride Christy became frustrated and angry with Alissa and started beating her and grabbing the screaming baby by her hair, banging her head multiple times against the car seat hard enough to cause fatal injuries. After multiple wacks she started losing consciousness. She was beaten into a coma.
Her lifeless body was strapped back into her car seat as Shaffer casually proceeded to go rent a movie, then drive to a nearby McDonald’s drive-thru to order happy meals for the rest of the children, including Alissa’s two brothers who had just witnessed their baby sister’s murder. Christy then proceeded to drive to her house, paying no attention to her nieces lifeless, stiff body.
When she arrived to her house in Topeka she let all the children out of the vehicle and got them situated in the house. She then went back to get Alissa’s body. During this time-frame she never once called an ambulance but did decide to call her brother several hours after the vicious attack.
Her brother was an EMT so he had some knowledge about what to do. He rushed to the house and noticed immediately that Alissa was cold to the touch, unresponsive with no heartbeat. He contacted 911 and performed CPR until emergency crew got there.
Alissa was then rushed to the hospital where a team of doctors desperately tried to save the little girl for 45 minutes. Despite their hardest efforts baby Alissa was pronounced dead on March 28, 2009 at 9:54p.m. She was fifteen months old.
An autopsy declared her death a HOMICIDE.
Two medical examiners concluded that Alissa had been deceased hours before arriving to the emergency room. They went on to say that her injuries prior to her death could have only been caused by a prolonged pattern of abuse. She was covered in bruises, marks and lacerations. Her internal injuries were just as horrific as her external injuries. Most of the marks were focused on her little head. Her arm was broken which meant this little child was in agonizing pain prior to her death. The insides of her mouth gouged into two open sores.
Christy Shaffer was arrested but never charged with her murder. Instead, she was only convicted of a singular count of a Class B Felony and neglect of a dependent. Her sentence? 77 days in jail.
The sentence outraged thousands of people in the community. Even to this day people are petitioning and creating memorial pages on numerous social media websites. The community surrounded the streets with picket signs similar to the one below. The “justice” system has not brought justice to Alissa Guernsey but the community has, and they’ve come together to make sure Alissa’s death doesn’t go down in vain.
Join Lock Up Christy Shaffer, a Facebook page created which has over 5,000 ‘likes’. On the page you will find photos of Alissa smiling in her daddy’s arms as well as memorial photos by others who were touched by her life.
Another page, Baby Alissa Cries 4 Justice, which is one of the many memorial pages on Facebook, has a whooping 100K likes.
There are many photos on Baby Cries 4 Justice including this one. The admin of the page wrote under the following saying;
This is a quote made by Judge Vanderbeck in the article in the South Bend Tribune “Was the Judge to Lenient” by Virginia Black… Photo Courtesy of Google Images***
“I’m not tipping my hand and suggesting that I know what I’m doing yet as to the ultimate resolution, I’m just — you don’t get faced with stuff like this and these people are being nice and if you take their side, and something tragic would happen with a child and a ticking time bomb — ah — that doesn’t make them bad, it kind of just makes them at the wrong place at the wrong time,” VanDerbeck said at one point, according to the transcript.
Alissa’s Army wants to know Judge Vanderbeck, How can you be so HEARTLESS?? Calling Alissa a “ticking time bomb”?? Alissa was PERFECTLY HEALTHY when she was placed in Christy’s care!!! There was NO MEDICAL REASON for any of her injuries and bruising!! This is documented by health professionals!!! How can you say Christy was in the wrong place at the wrong time??? SHE DID THIS!! How can you DEFEND a child KILLER?? YOU sir, have it backwards!! Alissa was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Christy was the TICKING TIME BOMB!!! I see a BIG CONFLICT OF INTEREST! YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RIGHT!! Christy should be CHARGED ACCORDINGLY!! WE ARE NOT BACKING DOWN!!! This one statement is the reason the world is OUTRAGED!! JUSTICE FOR ALISSA!!!
UPDATE: ALISSA’S PETITION on Whitehouse.Gov ended on January 14, 2013 and achieved its goal of going over 25,0000 signatures. (26, 892 to be exact) — Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign the petition, which can now be sent to the Obama Administration.
Rest In Peace Alissa B. Guernsey (November 2, 2007 – March 28, 2009)