(Some reports have Brianna Loveless as her name but according to her gravestone it’s Breanna Loveless.)
Breanna Loveless was born in Delta, Utah on May 22, 1995 to Ricky Lee Sanders and Dawn Loveless Wittison who is known by many as Bobbie Dawn Wittison. She was the youngest of three siblings, all girls.
Sadly, nine months after being born the blond-haired baby girl would die, and the cause-of-death quickly became controversial.
In 1996, Breanna Loveless died of pneumonia, at least that’s what her death certificate states. But the bruises, tears, broken collarbone, and multiple broken bones of different ages told a different story. One of abuse and torture.
“We were suspicious at the beginning because it looked like she hadn’t been taken care of,” said Jim Masner, a detective of Millard County Sheriff’s Office who worked on her case.
When paramedics arrived Breanna was in a full, soggy diaper that hadn’t appeared to have been changed for sometime.
Left photo shows Breanna Loveless smiling in a baby tub. The right side photos are Breanna’s autopsy photos.
Breanna’s mother, Bobbie Widdison, divorced Ricky Sanders and started a relationship with Sanders brother, Travis Widdison. Travis moved in with Bobbie and was living there during the time of Breanna’s death. Both told conflicting stories that didn’t add up. They said 9-month-old Breanna bruised herself by bumping into the crib, and that her broken bones came from being wedged in the crib bars. They also said she had “brittle bone disease” and bruised easily. This excuses given were very similar to that of Baby Alissa Guernsey.
Investigators had to figure out who hurt the little girl and how she died. They weren’t buying the excuses.
Masner, who had never investigated a child homicide, sought help from wherever he could get it. He called Primary Children’s Medical Center, the attorney general’s office, and federal experts in Quantico, Virginia.
Robert Kirschner, a Chicago-based forensic pathologist who has since died, bridged the evidentiary gap.
The state medical examiner testified that the immediate cause of death was pneumonia, but the girl had suffered physical abuse that so weakened her she could not fight off an illness that probably would not have been fatal.
Breanna’s “death is an example of fatal abuse without ‘fatal’ injuries,” Kirschner wrote in a report. “This is very common in children who have been repetitively beaten; the pneumonia basically acts as the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Photo of Breanna’s mother, Bobbie Widdison.
Bobbie Widdison contends that she found her daughter face-down in her crib. However, prosecutors say the position of the baby’s body – which already was in a state of rigor mortis when paramedics arrived – suggests she was on her back at the time of death.
The trial began with attorneys questioning Millard County deputy sheriffs who responded to a call of a baby not breathing at the Widdisons’ apartment, 395 E. 400 South, Delta, during the early morning hours of Feb. 22, 1996.
Deputy Morris Burton said that when he entered the apartment the baby was “stiff and cold” and had “what appeared to be bruises on her face.”
Deputy Brett Nielson testified that Travis Widdison told him the baby was put to bed at 9:30 p.m. the previous night. Bobbie and Travis Widdison then went next door to play cards with friends, and Bobbie Widdison returned at 11 p.m. to check on Breanna.
The deputy testified that Bobbie Widdison said the child was fine when she checked on her. But the couple said the baby was dead when they returned to the apartment after midnight.
Photo of Breanna smiling shortly before her death.
Alan Smith, a Delta physician who had previously treated Loveless, was present on Feb. 22, 1996 when paramedics brought her to the emergency room. He tried unsuccessfully to revive her.
Smith said she was examined after her death and found to have numerous bruises, abrasions and scratches. She also had a broken collarbone, broken bones in both arms and one leg. Upon cross-examination by Gaither, Smith testified that Loveless had evidence of both viral and bacterial infections before her death. She also had been diagnosed with bronchitis, which could have led to pneumonia.
A 4th District jury found Bobbie Widdison guilty of murder for beating Breanna to death and six counts of child abuse. She was sentenced to five years to life in prison. Travis Widdison was found guilty on three child-abuse counts and sentenced to up to five years in prison.
The Widdisons maintained their innocence throughout the court proceedings.
A judge has dismissed a murder charge against Travis Widdison in the 1996 death of 9-month-old Breanna Loveless. Murder and multiple child-abuse charges remain against the child’s mother, Bobbie Dawn Widdison.
So what did kill Baby Breanna Marie Loveless? It seems the only people who truly know aren’t willing to budge.
For more information on Breanna’s case, click Lost Angels – Breanna Loveless, which has a long list of different articles relating to the case.