Brayden Joseph Whalen
July 10, 2012 - January 5, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial

On January 1, 2013, a six month old baby was taken to the hospital and found to be in critical condition, the baby survived until January 5, when he lost his battle for life and died.

Before the baby died, 21 year old Daniel Lunsford. a U.S. Navy Sailor, was arrested and charged with one count of felony child abuse in connection with the abuse of Brayden and 20 year old Brittany Whalen was arrested and charged with one felony count of child abuse and one count of failure to secure medical attention. Daniel had hit Brayden and shook him so violently that his skull had fractured, his ribs had broken he had was having trouble breathing and he was diagnosed with significant brain trauma.

It was reported that Daniel had beaten this five month old, helpless Angel over a period of a few days. After going through excruciating pain and agony at the hands of this monster, he was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had hit this baby over and over in his head and chest. Brayden was placed on life support and ended up dying of what the Medical Examiner said was a significant fatal brain injury that was the result of blunt force trauma or being shaken. Daniel had been in the Navy since July of 2011 and had been stationed in Virginia since 2012. After he was arrested the process began to discharge him from the Navy and he was facing a sentence of seven to 50 years in prison.

Daniel told Police that Brayden had hit his head against a wall just a couple of days ago and that a cat had scratched him. Doctors didn't believe him and said that skull fractures, broken ribs, retinal hemorrhaging behind both of his eyes and bruising to Brayden's head, face and ears did were not injuries sustained in the manner Daniel was stating.
Daniel decided to change his story and told Police that he had been carrying Brayden and had tripped over the cat and that had caused the injuries. Police told Daniel that they didn't feel they were at the truth yet. Daniel  then said Brayden was crying and would not take a bottle and nothing seemed to be helping, it was causing him to be stressed out so he smacked the baby on the cheek, but not hard. Daniel said that he then put Brayden on the bed and walked out of the room saying that everything was find except for that one moment when he hit Brayden on the cheek:

"Mr. Lunsford never attempted to get medical attention for the child until he believe
the child had stopped breathing on Jan 1"
Police Det. Christopher J. Lyon

"Ms Whalen is trained in the assessment of physical injuries. She is aware of the
consequences of withholding medical care from an injured person. Ms. Whalen
stated that evne though she thought the injuries were significant and did not truly
believe they were caused the way she was told by Mr. Lunsford, she did not take
the child for medical attention out of fear of having the child taken from her
Criminal Complaint

Police searched the home and a silver ring was removed since it was worn on the hand that Daniel had used to hit Brayden. Daniel and Brittany's cell phones were also taken and found to contain messages from the past 72 hours along with pictures of the injuries to Brayden's body:

"It's unfortunately a very sad situation when it involves and infant"
Prosecutor - Anton Bell

Anton Bell said that while the biological father of Brayden was not known right away, Daniel was not his father.

In February of 2014, Daniel J. Lundsford, by then 23 years old, plead guilty to one count of felony homicide and one count of felony child abuse. Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Pamela Jones said in court that when 911 was called, first responders entered the apartment and it was dark inside, Baryden was laying on the floor in the living room, bruises and lacerations could be seen on his face and head and his breathing was erratic, shallow and slow.

Brittany Whalen was said to be training as an Emergency Medical Technician and it was said that she knew the injuries her son had could be fatal and she stood by and did nothing to help him. Brittany had the nerve to tell Prosecutors that she was afraid that they would ask for too light of a sentence:

"Justice for Brayden, that's my sole focus"

I guess she isn't considering that if her "sole focus" had been the safety of her child and getting him the medical attention he needed, he might be alive today.

Chris and Roxanne Harris, Brittany's mother and stepfather said they were also scared that Daniel would get a light sentence saying that the plea deal had been:

"Slapping the wrist of a murderer and a great injustice to an innocent
baby who deserved nothing but to live"

I wonder if they feel the same about their daughter who did NOTHING to help that innocent baby. I hope they made her take responsibility for HER part in his death. Prosecutors  had dropped charges that carried a combined 11 years in prison in exchanged for Daniel pleading guilty to charges carrying up to 50 years.

Brittany had the nerve to send out this message after allowing this man to abuse her son, covering it up, not seeking medical attention and protecting herself first:


In June of 2014 Prosecutor Pamela Jones said in court at Daniel's sentencing that Brayden would never go to kindergarten, never grow up and never experience all these was to life:

"I think about every year that child would have had in life. That is the same amount
of time he needs to be incarcerated to let him know that because of his actions,
this child will never be able to experience those milestones"

Daniel said in court:

"I accept responsibility. I apologize to the family about all the pain it's
caused. I'd like to ask the court for mercy"

Is that the same mercy you showed to a baby, because you deserve as much mercy as you showed Brayden, NONE!

Judge William H. Shaw lll said that while Daniel did accept responsibility for his actions, he plead guilty and he has shown remorse for what he did, there was still a child who had died. With 30 years of his sentence being suspended, Daniel would serve only 20 years in prison for what he did:

"Though the time that was given for Daniel to serve is not sufficient for Brayden's
life, I hope it's a start to promote child abuse aweareness"
Brittany Whalen

I just don't get this woman, she acts like she has ZERO responsibility in the death of this child. Sadly, I think she honestly believes that she had no part in what happened.

In September of 2014, Brittany should have been in court facing her part in the death of this precious little Angel. For reasons that were not known or not reported, the trial was moved and set for May of 2015.


Brayden Joseph Whalen, 5 months old, passed away Saturday, January 5, 2013. Private funeral arrangements were handled by Altmeyer Funeral Home, Denbigh Chapel.

Obituary found here:

Another sad obituary for another Angel gone too soon.

UPDATE: December 1, 2016 - Thank you so much, Sigrid, for this update!

In August of 2015, Brittany Whale was sentenced to a year and six months in prison for her part in the death of Brayden. Brittany was sentenced for not getting medical attention that she knew Brayden needed and at the age of 22 years old, she was sent to prison.

Brayden died of what was said to be "significant fatal brain in jury" as a result of blunt force trauma or having been shaken:

"Ms. Whalen stated that even though she thought the injuries were significant
and did not truly believe that they were caused the way she was told by Mr.
Lunsford, she did not take the child for medical attention out of fear of having
the child taken from her"
From the criminal complaint read in court

Judge Bonnie L. Jones was the sentencing judge and Brittany's original sentence was five years with three years and six months suspended on one of the abuse and neglect charges. Five years was suspended on the second child abuse and neglect charge. Brittany entered an Alford plea to the charges against her. Under this plea, she is allowed to claim her innocence while she admits there is enough evidence to convict her.

This page was created on January 26, 2015
Death occurred in the state of Virginia

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