Heartbroken Mom Desperate to Find Stolen Photos of Dying Newborn

stolen camera held images of dying newborn

Two weeks ago, photographer Faith Massey captured images of a newborn who died just half an hour after taking his first breath. A Charlotte, North Carolina, couple had hired her to take photos of their baby boy, knowing he wasn’t expected to survive. Baby Amari passed away shortly after his birth, and now the family has been hit with another blow — the camera holding those precious pictures has been stolen.


Massey works for a photography business called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which has the following stated mission:

To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep trains, educates, and coordinates photographers to provide portraits for families who know they’re going to lose their baby. It sounds like a devastating service, but as the nonprofit puts it, “These images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy.”

Mom April McLean and baby Amari's father could only hold their newborn briefly, and Massey was there to record his final moments:

We photographed him with all of the family members, his first bath, did some video images of him and his mother.

Horribly, the next day Massey discovered that her camera bag had been stolen from her car.

The next day I had looked in my back seat and my camera was gone. (...) It's something that can't be replaced. It's something that is going to live in their hearts forever but the memory fades very quickly. Especially when you only have a few hours with your child. I have insurance and I can replace that equipment, but I can't replace those images.

McLean released a statement begging the thief to consider the impact of his or her actions:

Words cannot explain how I'm feeling right now. After losing Amari, Faith helped make sure that we captured all of Amari's precious moments on her camera shortly after I gave birth til the moment he took his last breath. To find out that the camera has been stolen with the memory card full of the last moments with my baby, broke my heart. I've cried til I can't cry anymore. The only picture with me holding my baby is in that camera and it was only 5 mins I was able to hold him. So PLEASE, if you are the person who took this camera PLEASE at least turn the memory card in to wbtv news. You may do it anonymously. At this point I don't care who you are, To lose my child and to lose the only pictures we have of Amari can't even be explained. Just hurts and heartbroken. Please Just give me back the last moments I had with my child.

Massey urges whoever took the camera to “have a heart for this family,” and although police are investigating, baby Amari’s mom and Massey ask only that the memory card be returned — no questions asked.

What an unspeakable tragedy for this mom, who has just one cellphone image to help her remember her baby boy. I truly hope whoever stole the camera will return that card, even if they keep the rest of the equipment. I cannot imagine the pain the family must be going through, and it’s just unbelievable that they not only lost their child, they lost the priceless images of his heartbreakingly short life.


Image via WBTV/Faith Massey

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