Professional photographer Sunny Jo is used to having requests from grieving families who have lost a loved one or family pet. Through his “One More Time” series, Sunny Jo uses Photoshop to create stunning photo tributes of people posing with the deceased appearing as angels. When he received a request in March of 2016 from a mother wishing to have a photo series done of her with the daughter she had lost, Sunny Jo gladly obliged.
When the photographer asked how the woman, Jennie Ditty, had lost her daughter, Ditty told him that the toddler had choked to death on a banana. Ditty described to Sunny Jo how she wanted to pay tribute to her daughter by having a photo of them both posed near her daughter’s grave as she read The Giving Tree, her daughter Macy’s favorite book. Additionally, Ditty had two other photos created near Macy’s grave, including the pair walking hand and hand through the cemetery and another where Jennie grieved over Macy’s grave as an angel version of Macy stands at her shoulder. Sunny Jo was so taken back by the tragedy that he agreed to do the work free of charge.
It wasn’t until later that he found out about Ditty’s horrifying secret.
On December 2, 2015, Jennie Ditty was an active soldier stationed to Fort Bragg when her daughter, 2-year-old Macy, was rushed to Cape Fear Medical Center. The child was unresponsive and had bruising on her body consistent with child abuse, according to the medical staff. Macy was transferred to UNC Hospital in order to treat her life-threatening injuries.
Sadly, on December 4, 2015, Macy Grace Ditty was pronounced dead. Police had determined that the fatal injuries had occurred within 24 hours of Macy’s arrival to Cape Fear Medical Center. All eyes were on Ditty and her then boyfriend, Zachary Keefer, but without a proper investigation there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest either of the couple.
In March of 2016, the medical examiner completed his investigation and ruled that the death of Macy Ditty had been the result of a homicide. On March 24, both Ditty and Keefer were taken into police custody and charged with Macy’s murder.
Ditty and Keefer were both denied bond and are currently in a county jail while they are awaiting trial. Both are facing first-degree murder charges as well as charges for negligent child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury. Their next court appearance is scheduled for April 14, where it will be determined whether prosecutors wish to try the couple together or pursue separate trials.
Sunny Jo says that since learning of the murder he wrestles with himself. He feels that by trying to help out a grieving mother, instead of feeling good about his deed, he feels as if he is now “the bad guy.” In spite of his inner shame over the matter, he still stepped forward and provided copies of the photos he made for Ditty to investigators working on the case. Jo has decided to continue offering the photo service through his website, because he feels it is a great service that offers people who have lost a loved one comfort.