Clover Boykin, 19, kills her 5-month-old son,
Dayton, in Florida on October 27, 1994. She also confesses to killing 9-month-old Kayla Basante in
November 1993 while baby-sitting the child. Clover Boykin was
sentenced to life in prison.
Babysitter Gets Life In
Boykin Gets Extra 40 Years For Killing Son
By Sarah Ragland - Sun-Sentinel.com
February 2, 1996
The pain is
still there. The anger, too. But for the Basante family there is
some comfort in this: The woman who admits killing 9-month-old
Kayla Basante in 1993 will spend at least 25 years behind bars.
Boykin, 21, pleaded guilty on Thursday to the first-degree murder
of Kayla and the second-degree murder of Dayton Boykin, her own
sentenced to life in prison for the Basante murder and an
additional 40 years, to be served concurrently, for the murder of
her son. She will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
thing we can say is, it's over, and we won't have to deal with her
anymore," said Gisele Basante, Kayla's grandmother. "I hope they
don't give her parole. I hope they keep her there forever."
bargain - ironed out on Wednesday - came three weeks after an
earlier deal fell through after Boykin balked when the judge asked
her to admit she killed the babies.
Powell, Boykin's attorney, said Boykin still can't voice the
words, "I did it." But, she was able to affirm her guilty plea and
agree that the state could prove its case against her.
to enter this plea because it is in her best interest," Powell
arrested and charged with the killings in October 1994, a few days
after her son was found dead. She confessed to killing her son and
then to suffocating Kayla Basante - a child she was babysitting -
a year earlier. Until that point, Kayla's death was considered
contended the murders stemmed from her own abuse as a child.
"This is a
very sad set of circumstances for everyone involved, including
Clover," Powell said. "What happened is the result of a very
emotionally deprived childhood."
passed among her relatives - her mother, grandmother and an aunt
and uncle - after her father abandoned her mother when she was 7.
lesson in this," Powell said. "It sounds almost trite, like an
excuse, but it's an explanation for why some of these crimes
happen, and it's parents not recognizing or ignoring the emotional
needs of their children. When these needs are not fulfilled, this
is another example of what can happen."
Basante, Kayla's grandmother, sees it differently.
baloney about child abuse; I don't believe in that," she said. "A
person who lives a year hiding a murder and sees the face of the
mother of the baby she murdered every day and jokes and laughs
with her ... She's not crazy. She's not insane. She is evil. ...
If I am alive when she wants parole, they will hear from me."
Boykin's sentencing should give her family some peace after months
of court dates and meetings with prosecutors. But, she said,
justice has not been served.
but it's a joke, justice here," she said. "She killed her own baby
and another 9-month-old, a little angel. We have to live with this
the rest of our lives. It is impossible to forget."
said, the family gained some satisfaction when her son, Bill,
confronted his baby's killer in court on Thursday morning.
Basante, with angry tears in his eyes, told Boykin that if she
ever gets out of jail, his face will be the first thing she sees,
Gisele Basante said.
Boykin, Dayton's father, and Steven Boykin's parents and his
fiancee were also at the courthouse for the sentencing. They could
not be reached for comment on Thursday night, nor could Bill
Boykin's mother and grandmother were not present during the
Clover's choice not to have them here," Powell said. "It was
easier for her this way."
Sitter Refuses Plea Deal
In Baby's Strangulation
By Stephanie Smith - Sun-Sentinel
January 12, 1996
of Kayla Basante strained forward on the courtroom bench, breaths
held back to better hear the words they hoped would help put their
sorrow behind them. Those words never came.
Clover Boykin balked when the judge asked her if she strangled
9-month-old Kayla, whom she had baby-sat. He hadn't yet asked her
about the killing of her own 5-month-old son.
Twice, she tearfully halted the plea bargain
proceedings on Thursday to speak privately to her attorneys.
Circuit Judge Edward Garrison re-worded the question of guilt
want to drag you through all the gory details. I do need to know
if the essential facts are true," Garrison said.
There was a
long silence. Boykin's right hand, clenched into a fist, shook
uncontrollably as she stood before the judge with her back to the
courtroom gallery. Then with a small cry, Boykin shook her head
from side to side. "Uh, uh. No," she told the judge.
rose from the bench. "This case is set for trial," he said and
left the courtroom.
judge's departure, the courtroom stirred. Each member of the
Basante family reacted in their own way: Kayla's father, Bill
Basante, covered his face with his hands; his wife, Rebecca
Basante, stared vacantly ahead; and Kayla's grandmother, Giselle
Basante, fell back against her seat. Tears welled in her eyes.
was seething after the hearing. Boykin had again strung along the
family in her need for drama and attention, Basante said.
turning the knife once more," he said. "I wanted to hear the
had agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder of Kayla in
exchange for prosecutors agreeing to waive the death penalty. She
would have served a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in
prison under the plea bargain.
of her own child, Dayton Boykin, 5 months, would be reduced to
second-degree murder, and the 35-year sentence would be served at
the same time as the life term.
paperwork had been completed and the question-and-answer session
in court on Thursday was supposed to be a formality. Boykin
confessed to both killings in October 1994, when her own baby was
For a year,
the Basantes had thought their daughter died of sudden infant
death syndrome while under Boykin's care, and Boykin had mourned
with them. Rebecca Basante was among the first to rush to Boykin's
side after Boykin's son's death, before an autopsy found the
infant had been strangled.
grandmother, husband and mother-in-law were also at Thursday's
hearing. They seemed equally stunned by what happened.
grandmother, Clover Ulrich, said she found the hearing deeply
upsetting. "She said she didn't do this. I feel she didn't do
this. I can't believe it."
Basante said after the hearing that the family had agreed to the
plea bargain to spare Boykin's life and to move on with their own
lives. Now they must wait for the trial in April, where Boykin
will face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
"I want my
life. I'm just thinking of my son. My life comes first, not hers,"
Rebecca Basante said.
Woman Pleads Innocent
November 16, 1994
A Royal Palm
Beach woman pleaded innocent on Tuesday to two counts of
first-degree murder in the killing of two babies - one her own.
Boykin, 19, said nothing during her brief arraignment hearing in
Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
defender, Allison Powell, entered not guilty pleas to the two
counts of first-degree murder for Boykin and demanded a jury
accused of strangling or suffocating her 5-month-old son, Dayton
Boykin, last month and a friend's child, 9-month-old Kayla
Basante, a year ago.
grand jury indicted Boykin last week for first-degree murder, she
faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Grand Jury Indicts Woman
On Charges Of Killing 2 Babies
Npvember 11, 1994
BEACH — There is enough evidence for Clover Boykin to stand trial
for the murders of two babies - one of them her own son, a Palm
Beach County grand jury ruled on Thursday.
indictment charging Boykin, 19, of Royal Palm Beach, with two
counts of first-degree murder was released by the State Attorney's
Office on Thursday. Boykin is accused of "strangling and/or
suffocating" 5-month-old Dayton Boykin and 9-month-old Kayla
jury found that the murders of the babies was premeditated, which
means Boykin could face death in Florida's electric chair if
A panel of
senior prosecutors will make a decision within a month about
whether to seek the death penalty, said Mike Edmondson, a
spokesman for the State Attorney's Office.
friend, Joe Simpson, has been staying in touch with her in jail.
talked to her a few minutes ago and she's not doing too well,"
Simpson said on Thursday night. He declined to elaborate.
Boykin, Clover's husband, could not be reached Thursday.
father, Bill Basante, declined to comment on Thursday about the
indictment. In an interview last week, Basante said he hoped
prosecutors would pursue the death penalty in Boykin's case.
"I think the
electric chair would be a fitting end to this story, let's leave
it at that," he said.
sheriff's detectives she strangled her son, Dayton, on Oct. 27
after waking up from a nightmare. She told detectives she thought
the child was her abusive father. An autopsy found bruises on the
confessed to choking Kayla, daughter of a family friend, while
babysitting on Nov. 16, 1993. Kayla died seven days later. The
death was ruled an accident, but the case was reopened two weeks
ago when Boykin told a detective she had seen another baby die.
Woman Confesses To
Killing 2 Infants
By Jose Luis Sanchez Jr. - Sun-Sentinel.com
October 30, 1994
Florida woman has confessed to child homicide, admitting she
killed her own infant on Thursday and another infant in November.
A Royal Palm
Beach woman was arrested Saturday night after she confessed to the
Thursday slaying of her 4-month-old son and the killing last year
of the 9-month-old daughter of a family friend, Palm Beach County
sheriff's investigators said.
children were strangled, investigators said.
Boykin, 19, who lives in the 10000 block of Carmen Lane in Royal
Palm Beach, confessed shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday to killing
Dayton Allen Boykin, her son, on Thursday, investigators said. He
had been born June 3.
confessed to killing Kayla Basante, the daughter of family
friends, in November.
charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of
aggravated child abuse and will remain in jail overnight,
Investigators on Thursday had initially thought Boykin's son had
choked on baby formula while lying unattended in a bed,
investigators said. But evidence from an autopsy made
Investigators began talking with Boykin on Thursday. They brought
her in for questioning at 7 p.m. Saturday. She then confessed to
her son's killing and the killing of the child last year.
investigators that she injured Kayla Basante in November; the
child died five days later but the death was not considered
suspicious by investigators at the time, said Lt. Steve Newell of
the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.
to killing Kayla after sheriff's detectives questioned her on
Saturday, based on information they had gathered during the course
of the investigation of her son's death, Newell said.
baby-sitting Kayla at the time of the November killing. That death
was thought at the time to have resulted from sudden infant death
syndrome, sheriff's investigators said.
she was having emotional problems," Newell said during a news
conference at the Sheriff's Office complex in West Palm Beach.
"The reason she did it was she was having emotional problems
because she had been an abused child herself, and was taking it
out on others."
investigators identified Kayla's parents as William and Rebecca
Basante, of Palm Springs.
Springs did not consider that death suspecious at the time,"
Newell said. "The child lived for five days before she died, and
then her body was harvested (for organ donations)."
investigators said Clover Boykin and her husband, Steven Boykin,
live in a four-bedroom house at the Counterpoint Estates in Royal
Palm Beach, sharing their home with Steven Boykin's mother and a
sister of Clover Boykin.
were married in January, investigators said. Clover Boykin works
as a secretary, investigators said.
Investigators said at the time of Dayton's death, Steven Boykin
was at work, and the sister and mother-in-law were asleep in the
Investigators said Kayla Basante was born Feb. 13, 1993, and died
Nov. 23. Newell said Dayton Boykin's grandmother and aunt checked
on him at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and found that he was not breathing.
They called 911. Rescue workers from the Royal Palm Beach Fire
Department tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead 11:45
Baby Slayings Shock
Doting Mother 'Just Snapped,' Husband Says
Marego Athans, Phil Davis and Jim Di Paola - Sun-Sentinel.com
October 31, 1994
At the Boykin
house, a place of Italian meals and doting grandparents, Clover
Boykin played the loving mother well.
There were no signs of demons inside her head.
So no one was
more shocked than her husband Steven and his extended family to
hear what she confessed to police:
strangled their 5-month-old son Dayton in her waterbed on
Thursday, then got up and went to work.
confessed to killing another baby almost a year ago, an infant she
was baby-sitting, in a death that detectives investigated but
''I really don't know what
happened,'' Steven Boykin said Sunday from the driveway of his
Royal Palm Beach home. "All I know is something happened with my
''She was always happy to
have a child. She always played with him. ... She just snapped, I
guess. Nobody knew.''
19-year-old woman's confession on Saturday also jolted the family
of 9-month-old Kayla Basante, the Palm Springs infant who died
last November a week after she was found with a blanket around her
thought it was accidental asphyxia.
''We're going through hell,''
said the child's grandmother, Gisela Basante, 59, of Lantana.
Boykin was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail's mental
health unit without bail on Sunday night, charged with two counts
of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Just as South
Florida thought it had seen enough child killings, it was struck
Boykin told police she strangled a son she never wanted on
Thursday after she awoke from a nightmare and thought the boy was
her sexually abusive father.
confessed to that crime, she admitted killing Kayla. She choked
that baby, she said, because Steven Boykin - then her boyfriend -
was seeing another woman, and she wanted attention. The child
lived a week after the injury.
''I never had guessed she
could do anything like this,'' said Michelle Galan, a family
friend. ''It's so horrendous,
I just can't imagine. Any person in their right mind couldn't
think of such a thing.''
Boykin, then Clover Smith, came to live with the Boykins in their
tidy neighborhood almost a year ago, when she and Steven were
still dating. They met working at Winn-Dixie and were married in
January by a West Palm Beach Justice of the Peace. Boykin was five
works as a meat cutter at Publix; Clover, until last week, worked
in the filing department of a plastic surgeon's office. They lived
with Steven's parents in a brown four-bedroom home in Counterpoint
Estates in Royal Palm Beach.
There was no
sign of the trouble that would rock the family, said William
Boykin, the baby's grandfather.
statements from Clover Boykin and other family members, police
gave this account:
morning, Clover Boykin was sleeping in her waterbed, her son
beside her, when she awoke from a nightmare. In her dream, her
father was chasing her for sex, she told police.
She had been
sexually and physically abused by her father and mother's
boyfriend, she said, and she also feared her father-in-law was
trying to take away her son because of problems in her marriage.
her little boy was her father, so she grabbed his throat and
strangled him. Then she got up and dressed, told mother-in-law
Renata Boykin that the boy was asleep in her room, and went to
When she got
there, Boykin called home and told her sister-in-law, Patricia, to
give the cat its medicine. She called again an hour later to tell
Patricia to look for her glasses in her bedroom, where the baby
lay dead. She knew her glasses weren't there.
Patricia Boykin found Dayton ``unresponsive and blue,'' according
to the arrest report, and called 911.
dispatcher told Patricia Boykin to check Dayton's pulse.
''There's no pulse! Oh my
God! Oh my God!'' she screamed into the phone. The child was
rushed to Wellington Regional Hospital, but pronounced dead at
11:45 a.m. Neighbor Deanna Cauley, 16, said she peered through the
window when the ambulance arrived and saw the baby, his legs
Boykin told detectives she thought Dayton died of Sudden Infant
Steven Boykin spent Thursday night with a family friend, with whom
Clover had been having an affair for two months. Early the next
morning, after husband Steven returned to his family, Clover
Boykin and the friend had sex.
came the autopsy, which ruled the cause of death
''traumatic asphyxia,'' and
revealed signs of hemorrhaging to the throat.
death is similar to a Palm Springs case last November 16, when
infant Kayla Basante was found unconscious and died a week later.
Boykin, then Clover Smith, told police she found the child in her
crib with a blanket wrapped around her throat.
Beach County Medical Examiner's Office also ruled that death
traumatic asphyxia, but everyone concluded it was accidental and
the case was closed.
a friend of the Boykins, said Steven Boykin told him
''the woman's husband never
forgave her, but the woman did.''
examiner investigator Doug Jenkins said his office had not checked
the records on the Basante death.
family said they were too shaken up to talk on Sunday, and wanted
more information from sheriff's deputies first. Gisela Basante,
the child's grandmother, does not blame the police for dropping
the investigation. ''The
police have been very good, very good. They are human beings,''
the front door of his apartment, William Basante, father of Kayla,
said he was just coming to grips with the shocking news.
three pictures of his dead daughter were arranged on a table in
the corner of his living room. The house was dark and quiet. Toys
his older son plays with were scattered around the front porch.
''It's been a year, and it
hasn't gone away,'' he said.
Boykin was appearing in front of a judge for an arraignment early
Sunday, her husband and his family and friends were making funeral
were trying to cope.
it wasn't until detectives told him what Clover Boykin said in a
confession that he knew his wife had serious problems. She had
mentioned some past sexual abuse, he said, but did not elaborate.
''She always kept it bottled
inside,'' he said.
Boykin's father's whereabouts were unknown on Sunday, and
relatives declined to comment.
At the time
of Kayla's death a year ago, Clover Boykin said she also thought
of killing Steven because ''she
could see her father in him.''
confession to police, she told Detective Kim Martin:
''I thank Detective [Ole)
Olsen for stopping me, or I would have gone on hurting someone
Boykin killed babies because she wanted attention
of the unwanted attention she received from other convicts in the
Florida prison system, Clover sits alone most of the time,
separated from the inmates who view baby killers as the lowest of
the low in the rigid caste system prisoners embrace.
infant and getting away with it wasn’t enough for Clover, so she
found she had to murder again. The second time, she chose her own
son. She would have kept on killing if police hadn’t stopped her,
she said in a confession. “I thank Detective Olsen for stopping
me, or I would have gone on hurting someone else.”
Basante was born in 1993, it wasn’t too difficult for her parents
to settle on 18-year-old Clover Boykin as a day care option. Their
families had been friends for years and Clover was seen as a warm,
responsible young woman. Inside her head, however, something was
everything stays bottled up inside me and there’s just always a
mixture of everything that goes around in my head, so it’s never
one particular thing that always gets me,” she told police in one
1993, Clover stood over Kayla’s crib as the 9-month-old baby lay
sleeping. With her eyes closed, she seethed with rage, angry over
the fact that her boyfriend had indicated he still had feelings
for a former girlfriend. That was enough to set her off.
“She said she
remembered seeing a blanket wrapped around Kayla’s throat,” wrote
Detective Olsen. “She then noticed that Kayla’s face was turning
She came out
of her fugue state and called 911. A Palm Springs police officer
was able to resucitate the baby, but brain damage had occurred and
she was placed on life support. A few days later, the distraught
parents disconnected Kayla from the machines and donated her
organs. The manner of death was accidental and the cause listed on
her death certificate was “traumatic asphyxiation.”
In the course
of their investigation into Kayla’s death, police were not told
about the phone call Clover made to her future husband and
Dayton’s father, Steven, on the day Kayla was strangled.
Out of the
blue, Clover brought up Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, something
Steven had never heard of. “Basically, that’s when a baby stops
breathing and dies,” Clover told him. Then, as if the conversation
had worried her, Clover started to sign off. “Well, I have to
check on Kayla.”
‘You don’t have to check on Kayla, she’ll be fine,’” Steven
recalled later. “‘That will never happen.’ Later on that day I got
a call that it happened.”
The phone call
would not come up until almost a year later, when the brief
marriage of Clover and Steven was foundering, and Clover was in
custody for strangling 5-month-old Dayton.
were living a strange lifestyle at this point, with Clover having
an affair with the tacit approval of her husband.
didn’t want anything to do with her, and I did,” the man told the
Palm Beach Post.
marriage disintegrated, Steven Boykins told Clover that he
intended to seek custody of their son.
The fear of
losing her son — a child she was apparently ambivalent about
having — prompted Clover’s twisted act.
At first, she
claimed the murder was the result of acting out in a nightmare.
In her dream,
her father, who had abandoned his family when Clover was a young
teen but had never abused his daughter, was trying to sexually
assault her. She reached out and grabbed the baby, who was
sleeping next to her in her bed, and throttled him until he was
“I had another
nightmare that I had fallen,” Clover told police. “My father was
on me wanting me to sleep with him, and I grabbed him around the
neck, and instead it wasn’t my father, it was my son.”
Then she got
up, dressed and went to the doctor’s office where she worked as a
course of the next several hours she called her sister-in-law
twice, waking her up the first time for a nonsensical reason, and
the second time sending her into her bedroom in search of her
glasses, knowing that the woman would discover Dayton dead in the
heard of the tragedy — before foul play was suspected — the
parents of Kayla Basante rushed to the hospital to comfort the
her, and she played it so well,” the father told the media. “By
then, I was having my doubts.”
several days for authorities to complete their investigation,
during which time Clover began exhibiting increasingly bizarre
crying or showing any kind of remorse,” one detective wrote. “She
stated to family members, ‘Today at work, while I was working one
of the doctors told me to get him a cup of coffee. I told him that
wasn’t in my job description. What nerve he had.’”
her dead son with the medical examiner, Clover returned to her
lover and the two had sex.
The next day,
at work, she described how Dayton was “cut up” during the autopsy
— despite the fact that no autopsy had yet taken place.
She said it
“with a totally straight face, like she had this audience,” one
autopsy showed blood collected in Dayton’s throat, police brought
Clover in for an interrogation.
explained that no one ever gives her attention and that she needs
and wants attention,” Detective Olsen wrote his report. “She asked
me if I would help her, and I advised I would do the best I
Clover admitted to killing Dayton and then revealed she was
responsible for Kayla’s death.
“I killed my
baby and Kayla, and I need help,” she said.
Clover Boykin pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and was
sentenced to life in prison. Her family, baffled by her meltdown,
disputes that she was ever a victim of abuse. Her former husband
has tried to move on with his life. She spends most of her time in
close custody — alone — for her own protection.
Boykin is never far from the minds of the people she hurt, in the
end, no one pays any attention to her. She is, for all intents and
purposes, buried alive.
And that’s how it should be.