Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Former Berlin day care worker indicted on 90 child abuse charges

A grand jury on March 28 indicted Heather Lynn Ward, 40, on 90 charges charges related to her time working at Berlin Activities Depot/Education Station.

Heather Lynn Ward

Heather Lynn Ward

Heather Ward could face max of 1,000 years

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

A Berlin woman now faces 90 charges, including 10 felony child abuse charges, related to her time working in the infant classroom at a local daycare.

A grand jury on March 27 indicted Heather Lynn Ward, 40, who is facing numerous charges related to her time working at Berlin Activities Depot/Education Station. The charges pertain to nine children who were under Ward’s care and supervision at the daycare.

“The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office maintains an unwavering commitment to protecting children and will continue to work hand in hand with Child Protective Services and our other community partners to ensure that reports of child abuse are thoroughly investigated, and those responsible are held accountable,” Sheriff Matt Crisafulli said. 

In November, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services launched an investigation related to an eight-month-old baby who was admitted to Atlantic General Hospital with a broken tibia. 

“During the investigation, it was determined that the injured child was an attendee of the Berlin Education Station Childcare Center,” a release from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Investigation reads. “Video surveillance footage from the child’s classroom revealed actions by an employee identified as Heather Ward that appeared to cause the injuries to the child. The video footage additionally revealed other concerning interactions with several other children under her care.”

On March 26, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office presented the case to the Worcester County Grand Jury. Ward now faces 90 charges, including 10 felony counts of child abuse and 80 misdemeanor counts of second-degree assault, with offense dates ranging from Oct. 2, 2023, to Nov. 1, 2023. The charges include 10 felony counts of child abuse as well as misdemeanor charges such as reckless endangerment, second degree assault and neglect of a minor. 

In a bond hearing March 28, prosecutors said Ward could face a maximum of 1,000 years in jail if found guilty. While Ward’s defense attorney asked for home detention, Judge Brian Shockley denied the request. 

“Based on the information before me there is a profound risk of public safety if Ms. Ward is released and I have no way of remedying that,” he said. 

Carmella Solito, owner/operator of Berlin Activities Depot, said the charges were gut-wrenching.

“I am outraged and appalled that the person could allegedly commit such abhorrent acts,” she said in a statement. “The betrayal cuts to the core of everything I believe in and have worked towards at Berlin Activities Depot. Providing a safe, nurturing environment for children is my life’s work and highest calling. That’s why I believe nobody wants justice more than me.”

Solito said the charges did not reflect the “values, dedicated staff, and loving caregivers who make up the Berlin Activities Depot family.”

“We have zero tolerance for any abuse or mistreatment of children in our care,” she said. “Parents put their utmost trust in us, and we will stop at nothing to uphold that sacred responsibility. I ask for continued patience and understanding as we continue to fully assist law enforcement as the investigation continues. Protecting children must be our shared priority as we seek accountability and justice. I promise we will not rest until every necessary action is taken to ensure no family ever has to relive this nightmare.”

According to charging documents, police met with Ward in December and showed her surveillance video from the daycare classroom. 

“Ward stated from what she saw in the videos that I showed her, she didn’t believe she broke the ‘kids’ leg,” charging documents read. “She was told by the staff at the Education Station that it didn’t look like she broke her leg.”

At that point parents of other children who were in Ward’s classroom on Nov. 1 were shown video of their children’s interactions with Ward, and in mid-January, police obtained video for the Bees classroom during Oct. 1 to Nov. 13. The charging documents go on to identify numerous interactions between Ward and the baby whose leg was eventually broken.

“(The child) moved in her crib. Ward immediately turned and pushed down on (the child’s) body twice. 12:05:25— (The child) moved again, Ward pushed down on (the child’s) body and then slapped her twice. Ward repositioned (the child) so her head was at the opposite end of the crib. 12:08:16—Ward punched (the child) on the head area two times and slapped her,” according to charging documents.

This story appears in the April 4, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.