When Darnell Styles saw the picture of his 4-month-old baby with a knife, he panicked.
"If you get a picture like that what do you think?" said Styles, 22, who lives in New York. "Like in the movies and stuff sometimes you think it's a joke, sometimes it's not."
Styles called 911 when he received these messages Wednesday. Another picture shows the toddler with a red stain on his chest. Styles' three children live with their mother, Meleny Kranwinkle, in Charleston.
On Thursday, officers arrested Meleny Kranwinkle, 23 and her sister, Cecile Kranwinkle, 22, in connection with the text messages.
"They were staged, but we took them very seriously and now the mother and the aunt are both facing felony charges," said Sgt. Tony Hazelett, with the Charleston Police Department.
Styles said he's relieved the pictures were only a prank.
"I'm very overwhelmed, and I'm happy they are fine, but sometimes you think it's a joke and it could be real," Styles said.
The sisters were living at an apartment on Lancaster Avenue in Charleston. According to a criminal complaint, officers went to the apartment Wednesday after receiving the 911 calls.
Police discovered the text messages were sent from Cecile's cellphone. They also found the outfit the infant was wearing in the pictures. The substance appeared to be ketchup, not blood. Meleny told police she did not know where the pictures came from.
Both women were arrested and taken to South Central Regional Jail.
Meleny posted bail Friday, but Cecile remains incarcerated.
The sisters were charged with felony child neglect charges, but Meleny also faces a misdemeanor for harassing phone calls.
The three children are staying with a relative in Charleston, according to Sgt. Hazelett. Child Protective Services has opened an investigation into the case.
Earlier this month, police arrested Styles when he was visiting Kranwinkle in Charleston.
Styles claims he came to Charleston to help Kranwinkle with their children. Police said they responded to a domestic violence call at the same apartment and arrested Styles about two weeks ago.
Shortly after posting bond, Styles returned to New York. He said this incident might have fueled the text message prank.
Sgt. Hazelett also said the two events are probably connected.
Two women are in jail following a bizarre child abuse case that started with violent cell phone pictures.
Cecile and Meleny Kranwinkle are charged with felony child neglect and threats by phone.
Charleston Police said this started after they got a 911 phone call from a man in New York.
The man said his children were being held hostage here in Charleston.
He told police someone was texting him violent pictures of his 4-month-old-baby. He said in the pictures, someone was holding a knife to the baby's throat and there appeared to be blood on the baby's clothes.
It turns out the baby's aunt, Cecile, was the one sending to the pictures to her sister's ex.
Police went to the women's Lancaster Avenue apartment for a well-being check.
Police said of the kids in the house were safe, including the baby. After interviewing the women, they found the disturbing pictures on Cecile's cell phone.
The pictures turned out to be staged.
Harmless prank or not, police don't think the situation is funny.
Now, both sisters could face jail time, all over trying to get back at an ex.