WHITE CLOUD, Michigan — Family and friends of 4-month-old Natallya Rich, who was found dead in the basement of her family’s home late Tuesday, are still trying to come to terms with the tragic ending to what was once a missing person’s investigation.
Relatives say the boyfriend of the infant’s mother, Matthew Bradley, led them to the infant. Now, Bradley’s family is speaking out about the last time they saw him and why one of them even lied to protect him during the search for the 4-month-old.
“He was distraught a little bit, confused, and things like that,” said Stephanie Wert about the last time she saw her brother. "Other than that he was his normal self to me."
Wert says she still believes he had nothing to do with baby Natallya’s death, even after seeing Bradley the same day other relatives and police were searching for the 4-month-old.
Neighbors who live where Natallya was found are outraged by the news.
“It’s just heartless,” said Devon Eaton who lives across the street from the home where Natallya was found. "It’s the grossest thing."
Baby Natallya’s grandmother, Hiedi Thill, is still looking for answers.
“I need to know what happened. I need to know the circumstances of why he did it. Was it an accident? And even if it was an accident, why did he hide it?”
Now Matthew’s sister, Stephanie Wert, speaking to FOX 17 News, saying Bradley came to her house for several hours on Tuesday. When asked if she thought her brother could kill the baby, she responded defiantly. “Honestly, in my heart, I’ll tell you the same thing I have told everyone else: I don’t think he could do anything like this."
Wert says she ‘covered’ for Bradley by telling Natallya’s grandmother and other family members that she was watching the baby.
“He asked me to do one little thing and I did it, ,” said Wert. "He told me the baby was in the White Cloud trailer park with a friend but didn’t give no name."
Bradley’s mother, Kathleen Bradley, also saw him on Tuesday and noticed a change in his demeanor.
“The only thing he was saying was he need a psychiatrist.”
Bradley’s family says he loved Natallya more than life itself. They have not been able to talk to him since he was taken into custody in Big Rapids Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, the Newaygo County prosecutor says the child’s mother, Brittany Rich, is cooperating with the investigation after she was found with Bradley.
Authorities are also awaiting autopsy results to determine when and how the infant died.
Bradley is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on an outstanding warrant, but no charges in the death of baby Natallya have been filed at this point.