Travis Brown found guilty in the death of Khaleesi Cuthriell

Khaleesi was two years and 10 months old when Child Protective Services signed off on an agreement to place her with Candi Royer.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 5:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:29 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - “The system failed her.”

If you ask anyone in the Shenandoah Valley about Khaleesi Cuthriell, that’s what you’ll hear.

Khaleesi was two years and 10 months old when Child Protective Services signed off on an agreement to place her with Candi Royer.

In the months that followed, she would be abused and killed.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Candi Royer’s then-boyfriend, Travis Brown, was found guilty on three charges, felony homicide, aggravated murder and child abuse.

During closing arguments, Brown’s attorney Dana Cormier delivered his closing argument, asking the jury to put aside emotions and to understand Brown was not responsible for Khaleesi’s death.

“Be horrified. Be angry. But take a breath and do your job as jurors,” Cormier said.

The jury was dismissed for deliberations at around noon. They returned just after 4 p.m.

No one took a breath. There was a collective sigh as the court reporter read “guilty” on all three charges.

Silence fell.

During the last two days of testimonies, the people in that room - Khaleesi’s loved ones as well as law enforcement officers who had dedicated themselves to this case for almost two years - looked at dozens of devastating photos and videos showing what Khaleesi endured after she left her Waynesboro home on October 20, 2020.

Investigators found about 46,000 photos on Candi Royer’s devices and accounts showing Khaleesi’s cuts, burns and bruises, along with videos of the psychological torment she’d endured.

“We did everything any good Christian would do to help this little girl,” Brown said during an interrogation on Sept. 19, 2021, months after Khaleesi died.

When the case first became public, many wondered what happened to Khaleesi. An expert on child abuse and torture Dr. Robin Foster with VCU testified and explained her bruises and cuts were not a result of falls.

Foster said the injuries in the photos and videos she saw are consistent with not only abuse but torture. Foster said when torture is going on, any adult in the home is aware of it.

“It only takes one of them to say, ‘we’ve got to stop this,’” Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin said. “That one is sitting here, and he didn’t do anything.”

Many asked how Khaleesi came to live with Royer and Brown. Royer was on house arrest when Khaleesi moved in, and Royer and Brown have several previous charges and convictions.

The CPS worker who drove Khaleesi to that home on Cattle Scales Road testified. She said she saw Khalessi for the last time when she dropped her off.

Martin asked her if anyone in the department checked in.

“I attempted to,” she said.

However, no one ever dropped by.

On September 19, 2021, investigators searched that home. In that search, they found small dots of blood on the wall determined to be Khaleesi’s.

They also found a bent wire hanger with electrical tape wrapped around it with a few strands of Khaleesi’s hair, along with Royer’s DNA.

In the “yellow bedroom,” the room Khaleesi lived in, the doorknob was backward, so it was possible to lock her in.

Khaleesi’s last phone call with her mother was on January 12, 2021, and the last video of her was taken that same day. Martin said she likely died that day or just a few days later.

“I hope when he finally did it, it was quick,” Martin said on Wednesday during closing arguments.

Royer and Brown were arrested in Pennsylvania on Sept. 12, 2021 after going on the run. Brown told investigators during that Sept. 19 interrogation that Khaleesi died after hitting her head. He told them he wrapped her up in a blanket and threw her body in a trash can.

Still, her remains have not been recovered.

Brown is scheduled to appear in court on February 8 for scheduling. Royer will be in court on Sept. 13, and her jury trial is set to last five days and start on Oct. 16.

For more on Brown, Royer and Khaleesi, follow a link below.

Augusta County Sheriff’s Office looking for missing three year old

ACSO reports arrests made in missing child case

Sheriff’s Office: missing three-year-old believed to be dead

Investigators interviewing suspects in child abuse/neglect case

Suspects in Khaleesi case extradited

Christmas Eve candlelight vigil held for Khaleesi

Khaleesi Cuthriell case heard in front of grand jury

Khaleesi court case continued, rescheduled for January

Trial set for woman charged in Khaleesi’s death

Jury trial set for Candi Royer

Court docs show evidence to be used in the case of Khaleesi Cuthriell

Khaleesi’s walk for justice going onward Saturday