Baby Grace remembered one year after death in Socastee Creek

Baby Grace remembered one year after death in Socastee Creek

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's been one year since search crews combed through a creek in Socastee for three days looking for nearly five-month-old Baby Grace.

She's now buried at Hillcrest Cemetery and her mother is in jail for her murder.

"Every now and then I just break down," said Tiffany Boswell, who knew Baby Grace from the time she was born. "Came here the other day and broke down, talked to her, cleaned off her headstone."

Boswell used to see Grace Carlson Santa Cruz every day.

"Every time she'd see me she'd smile," she said.

It was one year ago when Boswell found out she may never get to see Baby Grace alive again.

"After the first day and the second day and they didn't find anything, I knew she wasn't going to be found alive," she said.

Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of the day rescuers found Baby Grace under a large tree they had to remove out of the creek with equipment.

"We had reassurance of, OK, what's the next step?" Boswell said.

However, closure didn't remove the pain or regret.

"I lived with the weight on my shoulders of the times Sarah would tell me, 'Just take her,'" Boswell said.

Boswell said it took her a year to figure out what she wanted to say to Baby Grace's mother, Sarah Toney, who sits in J. Reuben Long Detention Center without bond. She recently wrote her a letter.

"I don't want that hatred in my heart anymore," she said. "I can't live like that anymore, so I just wanted to let her know that I don't agree with what you've done, I'll never agree with what you've done, but I do forgive you."

She continues to think about Baby Grace often.

"I think about what she would look like now," Boswell said. "How long her hair would be because I have a little girl. How her and my daughter would play."

Her 2-year-old daughter can still play with one of Grace's toys though. Toney's roommate gifted it to her last Christmas.

"She has a really strong bond with that toy more so than any other toy that she has," Boswell said.

Boswell got to take home some of Grace's clothes and belongings to remember her by after she died. Her niece wore Grace's headband Friday.

She said Baby Grace lives on in her family and she wants to eventually tell Toney the legacy the five-month-old left in her short life.

"She's touched more lives than I think you realize," Boswell said.

While Boswell said she forgives Toney, she'd like to see her punished for her actions and ensure justice is done for Baby Grace.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said his office is looking at a trial time of next spring, possibly in March, but no exact date has been set.

Toney doesn't have bond right now, but Richardson said she could still have a bond hearing in circuit court up until a trial.

On Nov. 3, 2015, a woman called 911 saying Toney showed up soaking wet on her back porch in the Bridge Creek neighborhood.

The caller told dispatch that Toney had said she went into the creek with a baby, but the woman told the 911 operator the baby wasn't with Toney.

The search for Baby Grace ensued between Bridge Creek and Sims Drive, as well as down to the Intracoastal Waterway.

According to a police report Toney told law enforcement she went into the creek to try to find God. It also said she was showing signs associated with using meth.

She was charged the next day with unlawful conduct toward a child, but then was charged with homicide by child abuse when Baby Grace was found dead in the creek on Nov. 5.

Richardson said that holds 20 years to life.

Toney had told the judge during her bond hearing on her first charge a year ago she went into the water with Baby Grace, wasn't able to hold onto her and the water sucked her in. She had said she didn't intentionally put her in any danger.

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