2021 New York Comic Con Ghostface
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 07: A cosplayer is dressed as Ghostface from "Scream" poses during the first day of Comic Con at Javits Center on October 07, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images) Getty Images


  • Five employees of Lil' Blessings Daycare in Hamilton, Mississippi, have been slapped with criminal charges
  • The charges were connected to an Oct. 4 incident that involved mask-wearing staffers seemingly scaring kids
  • Police believe the employees were using the masks to scare the kids into performing a certain task

Five employees of a Mississippi daycare center are facing criminal charges over what police claimed were "behavior modification" incidents involving Halloween masks that were caught on camera.

A widely circulated video shared by local media outlet WTVA 9 showed staffers of Lil' Blessings Daycare in Hamilton seemingly attempting to frighten children while wearing masks of the character Ghostface from the horror series "Scream."

The masked employees yelled at children while the minors cried, footage showed.

In one scene, one staffer shouted "run!" as she chased a child around a room, grabbed them and lifted them off the ground.

Police believe the employees used the masks to scare the kids into performing a certain task.

"It appears to us they were using the mask for behavior modification. They can't use corporal punishment, so we think they were using the mask to try to scare the kids into doing what they were supposed to be doing," Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook was quoted as saying by the Monroe Journal.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), along with the offices of the County Prosecutor and the District Attorney, met with the parents of the children involved Monday to inform them of the possible criminal charges they could pursue.

"There were some who were certain they wanted to file felony charges, and the only felony charge that this could possibly fit in was felony child abuse under subsection 1-D, and that dealt with improper supervising of the kids and their neglect and possible substantial mental trauma from what they were going through," Crook said.

Parents were also given an opportunity to share information they had gathered with Monroe County investigators, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

At least one set of parents filed felony child abuse charges in Monroe County Justice Court Wednesday.

Four of Lil' Blessings Daycare's employees — Sierra McCandless, 21, Oci-Anna Kilburn, 28, Jennifer Newman, 25, and Shyenne Mills, 28 — were arrested the next day on three counts of felony child abuse each, according to the MCSO statement.

A fifth staffer, 44-year-old Traci Hutson, has been charged with misdemeanors failure to report abuse by a mandatory reporter and simple assault against a minor.

She was not linked to the videos but had knowledge of the incidents and failed to report them, according to Crook.

The five employees, all of whom lived in the Hamilton/Caledonia area, were in custody in Monroe County Jail within two hours of a judge issuing their warrants Wednesday, the MCSO said.

Justice Court Judge Sarah Stevens set McCandless' and Kilburn's bonds at $20,000, while Newman's and Mills' were set at $15,000.

The case is still open and ongoing, according to police.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has also launched a separate investigation.

Information has been shared between the MCSO and the department, Crook said.

The owner of Lil' Blessings Daycare, who terminated four employees after footage of the incident surfaced, has neither been arrested nor charged, Law & Crime reported.

However, the MSDH has issued an Emergency Suspension of License to the daycare, which was a cease and desist of operation order pending investigation of the Oct. 4 incident.

Lil' Blessings Daycare is Hamilton's only daycare.

"It's just a shame it happened and this is where we're at. Hopefully, people will learn from it," Crook said.

A young boy poses in a "Scream" mask with an ax on Halloween in North Bondi, Oct. 31, 2008, in Sydney, Australia. Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images