POTTSVILLE -- A soldier who grew up in our area is now charged with murdering her own child in North Carolina.
The 2-year-old girl died from what investigators say is a case of child abuse.
Jeanie Ditty's brother and sister in Pottsville say their family is going through too much grief to talk about her arrest. It is a case that has those who knew her growing up as Jeanie Vengen confused and some are angry.
Jeanie Vengen Ditty was arrested with her boyfriend Zachary Keefer in Fayetteville, North Carolina where she serves in the Army at Fort Bragg.
The two are accused of murder in the beating death of Ditty's 2-year-old daughter Macy. The girl died in December.
Ditty just made her first court appearance in North Carolina.
Family members say Ditty joined the Army after graduating from Stroudsburg High School in 2011. Before that she went to high school in Pottsville.
Throughout the day we talked by phone and online with people who knew Jeanie Vengen Ditty growing up. Most were surprised she is charged with the murder of her daughter. But they added that she had a very unstable childhood.
"I wanted to give her another chance to see her baby that she will never see again."
Sunny Jo owns a photography studio in Hazleton. Jeanie Ditty contacted him through a mutual friend a month after Macy's death.
"I knew that it was a grieving mother, and I felt so bad that she lost her 2-year-old daughter that I jumped right on it."
So Sunny Jo put together a montage of pictures of Jeanie with Macy inserted as a hologram of an angel. He felt good about it, until he got a call last week from a detective investigating the case in North Carolina.
Now Sunny Jo believes he was lied to.
"Knowing that she used me and she used this to possibly make herself seem innocent. That's the worst feeling in the world."
U.S. Army spokespeople have not returned our calls. One of her friends told us by phone that Jeanie Ditty joined the Army shortly after high school to get some discipline and direction in her life and that friend thought she found it.