John McKenzie admits he held a towel with bleach on it over his 2-year-old daughter's mouth. She inhaled it and it burned her face, but McKenzie says he was trying to help his little girl -- not hurt her.
McKenzie contacted Newscenter 16, wanting to tell his side of this story. He says it was an accident. The prosecutor's office has charged him with felony neglect.
“I didn't even know the bleach was going hurt my daughter,” McKenzie exclaims. “I put it (the towel) up to her face. I put it up to her face and said, ‘blow’.”
McKenzie's youngest daughter, Jariah, was sick on November 30th. He says the accident happened when his older daughter gave him a towel to wipe the toddler's nose with. “There was a little smell because we wash our clothes. We don't have a washing machine and we wash them in bleach. It wasn't intentional, like I poured bleach into the towel and hurt my daughter.”
When Jariah began coughing from the bleach McKenzie says he pulled the rag away and flushed her face with water. He never took her to the hospital because he believed cocoa butter would be enough to heal the burns forming on Jeriah's face.
The next day one of McKenzie's daughters told a school official what happened and Children Services took custody of all three of the McKenzie children. Now, John and his wife have supervised visitation with the girls at the Families First Center. “If I felt I did something wrong, my daughter would have been at the hospital,” McKenzie says. “Her face is clear now. It’s fine.”
John McKenzie refused the help of a state appointed defense attorney. He’s upset his children were questioned without his consent, but he doesn't blame his daughter for telling an adult about the accident. He says she's just confused and got the story all wrong.