Editor's Note: Daily Item reporter Francis Scarcella sat down for an exclusive interview with Jahrid Burgess on Friday morning. The interview took place before Arabella Parker died on Friday afternoon.
COAL TOWNSHIP — Jahrid Burgess denied causing the injuries that killed Arabella Parker, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Item on Friday, but admitted he slapped the child and her mother Samantha Delcamp — then his girlfriend — because they were not “following the rules.”
The 19-year old, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, spoke via video from inside the Northumberland County Jail.
“Yes, I hit Samantha, but I did not do all of these things to Arabella,” he said.
Burgess is accused by state troopers of beating the 3-year old girl so badly that part of her brain needed to be removed. Delcamp, 24, of Trevorton, is also accused by state police of knowing about the abuse of her daughter and not reporting it.
On the night of Oct. 10, Arabella was taken by ambulance to Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, where she was on life support until Wednesday.
Arabella passed away Friday afternoon in the arms of her aunt, Mandy Kegler, who had been granted custody of the child by a Northumberland County judge.
Burgess claims at noon on Oct. 10 a Children & Youth Services official visited the Trevorton home of Burgess and Delcamp. Burgess said a caseworker looked over Arabella and said she was fine.
Children & Youth Services does not release information about any case. Director Katrina Gownley said she could not discuss Arabella's case.
Burgess said he left the home shortly after and Arabella was in the care of Delcamp, who Burgess said was frustrated because she ran out of marijuana. Burgess said he left the home to go to work. Burgess claimed he worked at a coin shop and ran his own pawn shop online.
“I came back at around 8 p.m. after picking my mother up from work,” Burgess said.
Burgess said he, Delcamp and Arabella were inside the Shamokin Street apartment. They ate cheeseburgers and frozen Salisbury steak sandwiches for dinner.
Arabella was not eating and Burgess said Delcamp was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes when she got angry over the child’s refusal to eat.
“She picked her (Arabella) up and threw her across the room where Arabella hit part of the couch and landed on the floor where she hit her head,” Burgess said.
Burgess said Arabella began to have a seizure. Burgess said he told Delcamp she needed to “fix this” and they researched information on what to do if a child was having a seizure.
Burgess said he called his mother, who had just left to go back to work, and she arrived shortly after and called 911. Troopers said it was nearly 50 minutes from when the seizures before first responders arrived.
Burgess’ mother, Christy Willis, of Sunbury, is also charged by troopers of not reporting the incident after discovering Arabella was laying on the floor.
Burgess said he and Delcamp went to the hospital. After returning to their Trevorton apartment, the two discussed how they would “have each other’s backs” when police came, Burgess said.
"She (Samantha) had stuff on me and I had stuff on her," Burgess said. "I was getting blackmailed. I was selling her 'baby daddy' things while he was in prison."
Arabella's father, Karl Parker, is serving time in SCI-Coal Township on a DUI charge.
Burgess denied hitting the child on Oct. 10 and said the most he would have done during their four-month relationship was slap her rear end because there were rules.
"I told Samantha there were rules," he said. "No drugs. Clean up after yourself and Arabella needed to use the potty."
Prior to living in Trevorton, Burgess said he did hit Delcamp. "I drug her up the stairs by her hair once," Burgess said. "I admit that. I also punched her in the arm."
Burgess said he got mad because he received messages he was abusing Delcamp and Arabella. Burgess said during that time he also "may have" slapped Arabella in the mouth because she was chewing her fingernails.
Burgess said the Sunday before the Oct. 10 incident he got mad at Delcamp and Arabella so he made them walk around the living room back and forth "military-style" because they weren't following the rules.
"I watched football on my phone," he said. "I told Samantha from the beginning it was my way or the high way."
Burgess said he paid all the bills and it was never a struggle for money. However, his mother claimed she was going to her son's apartment on Oct. 10 to give him rent money.
Children & Youth Services visited his Sunbury residence and Trevorton apartment up to two times a week and that he was also interviewed by caseworkers, Burgess said.
He and Delcamp would lie to the caseworkers routinely, Burgess said.
Burgess said he fears for his safety while in jail and he is only protected by the guards. He wanted people to know that he did not do all the things that are being reported to police by Delcamp.
Delcamp claimed she was so fearful of Burgess she couldn't tell anyone of the abuse.
"She could have left at any time," Burgess said. "I hit her a few times, yes, but I did not do all of these things she is saying."
The interview lasted 45-minutes. Burgess said he will fight the charges of felony aggravated assault. Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz said in previous court hearings that he would file homicide charges if Arabella were to die.
On Friday Matulewicz would only say he was aware of The Daily Item interview and he had no comment.