KCSO: No cause of death yet after baby found unresponsive at Knox daycare

Published: Sep. 19, 2018 at 5:19 PM EDT
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The cause of death for a 3-month-old baby who died the afternoon of September 19, 2018, after being found unresponsive at a west Knox County daycare, remained a mystery five days later.

According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office, the medical examiner's autopsy did not reveal any contributors to the child's death. The medical examiner was awaiting toxicology and pathology results to determine the cause of death.

Sonyu Qualls is the woman who was running the daycare in question.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services said Sonyu Qualls operated a "registered home" from November 2000-October 2003. This allowed her to care for up to 4 unrelated children.

Ms. Qualls was licensed to operate Sonyu’s Lots-A-Tots from July 2006 – August 2014 at which time she voluntarily surrendered her license.

Officials said she they did not ask her to surrender her license, but she did so voluntarily.

Once she gave up her license, however, authorities had no way to know if she was still watching children.

DHS instructed Qualls she was operating illegally operating a childcare facility in 2015. The Department of Children's Services (DCS) confirmed that they were investigating as well.

To find out if a childcare facility has a state license, go



A 3-month-old baby died Wednesday afternoon after it was found unresponsive at what officials called a 'private individual daycare' on Amber Meadows Circle in west Knoxville according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators told WVLT News the child was transported to Parkwest Hospital around 2:00 p.m. but did not survive. A medical examiner was tasked with determining a cause of death.

Tennessee Department of Human Services Spokesperson Sky Arnold told WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara that the person operating the daycare was, "caring for more kids in the home than she legally should have had as an unlicensed daycare provider."

Under state law, a child care provider watching more than four unrelated children at one time must be licensed.

One parent leaving with his baby told WVLT News he wasn't informed about what happened but was instructed to pick up his child.

KCSO officials said deputies initially started investigating whether the at home daycare in the Hardin Valley area was properly licensed to operate, or even required to obtain a license to operate.

A search of state records did not show a licensed day care linked to the address that investigators responded to.

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