A candlelight vigil will take place Friday (Aug. 11) for Jamoneisha Merritt who was soaked with boiling hot water during a sleepover with friends.
The Washington Post reports the 11-year-old was with friends in the Bronx when the incident happened Sunday evening (Aug. 6). Merritt’s cousins tell reporters she got into an argument with her older friend before going to bed. “[The other girl] told her if she goes to sleep they were going to do something to her,” Yolanda Richardson said. Merritt awoke to her skin burning and blisters over her face and shoulders after a pot of boiling water was thrown on her face. Her mother Ebony Merritt took her to Harlem Hospital’s Burn Unit where she was treated for second degree burns.
Ebony tells reporters she believes her daughter wasn’t just the victim of a prank, but the troubling “hot water challenge” that recently claimed the life of a child from Florida. The online fad features teens either drinking or voluntarily jumping into hot water.
“She don’t understand why they did that to her. She thought they was her friends,” Merritt said. “I was told that they didn’t like her. And they just been bullying her.”
The 12-year-old who committed the act was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. Ebony says Jamoneisha is in good spirits but was unsure of letting her child see her reflection until the wounds began to heal. “She saw her face; she’s OK with it. But she’s still traumatized,” she told The Daily News.
As Jamoneisha continues to recover in the hospital, family members are having trouble dealing with the situation. The Daily News reports the suspect, her mother Shernett Panton and older sister received threats from the victims mother and other family members. “Now I’m getting text messages from her nieces or maybe her cousins,” Shawna, 14, said. “It makes me feel scared.”
Merritt allegedly attacked Shawna on Monday (Aug. 7) by punching her in the face. Panton says her daughter has taken responsibility for the incident, but didn’t intent to harm her friend. “They always prank each other,” Panton said. “My daughter was sleeping and Jamoni poured cold water on her. My daughter was like, ‘OK, if you’re gonna do a prank on me, I’m gonna prank you back.’”
Panton’s daughter remained on suicide watch at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center after trying harm herself with a knife. “What she did was really wrong, but it’s too much right now,” Panton said. “My daughter is 12. Everybody makes mistakes.”
Jamoneisha’s family has created a GoFundMe for her hospital bills and counseling sessions. So far, the family has raised just over $6,000.