SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Sanford police believe that Rachel Fryer beat her
daughter Tariji Gordon to death and then buried her in a shallow grave in Putnam County last month. The woman who served as the foster mother of the 2-year-old opened up about the girl's life to Channel 9's Tim Barber. She talked about Tariji's death and the changes that need to be made so this kind of tragedy never happens again.
Home video provided by Tariji's foster mother shows a happy girl on her birthday.
"I always believed Tariji was a miracle because she was born premature.
She was a fighter," the woman told Barber.
The woman became a foster parent to Tariji and her three siblings after Fryer was accused of accidentally killing Tariji's twin brother Tavontae by rolling over on him while she slept when he was 2 months old.
During the year
and a half the foster mom had Tariji, the 2-year old came out of her shell, according to the woman.
Records show that changed after the girl went back to Fryer, who was struggling financially and mentally with caring for four kids.
Just three months after Tariji went home, investigators found the girl's body buried in Putnam County.
"It was like being stuck in a horror movie," Tariji's former foster mother told Barber.
While Sanford police say Fryer beat her young daughter to death, Fryer says her daughter just stopped breathing.
The last time the foster mother talked to Tariji was on Christmas Day, when she gave the girl a copy of a book titled "Guess How Much I Love You."
She said it was a book she and the girl often read
The foster mother told Barber that she has cared for
11 children and that her dealings with Fryer's family were not any more difficult than those with other families .
Tariji's foster mom told Barber that the system needs to change. She said more attention needs to be put on foster kids when they return to their biological families.
"The child needs as much attention as the parents," she said.