SIOUX FALLS, SD - A father has opened up about his heartache after losing his four-month-old daughter. On Monday, the baby's mom, 22-year-old Angelia Berg, appeared in court in connection with the baby's death.
Berg faces child abuse charges and cried as the judge read them to her. Police say Berg was passed out in a Sioux Falls apartment while her boyfriend, Daniel Uecker, was allegedly smoking meth out of a light bulb. Uecker faces drug charges, including meth possession.
When Berg woke up, baby Briella was unresponsive on a mattress that was covered in plastic. Doctors later declared her dead at the hospital. Investigators say it could take a few weeks to get the final autopsy report.
It's been a long and heartbreaking few days for Greg Filipek. Filipek says he would keep his daughter Briella's bed close to his.
"She would hold my finger all night. When I would move my hand, she'd reach for me," Filipek said.
That's how he knew their connection was much deeper than just a name on a birth certificate.
"It was almost like she wanted me to protect her," Filipek said.
That's what this dad was trying to do leading up to the day authorities found Briella. It's why it's so hard to let go of his baby daughter.
"I regret that she could never walk and talk and crawl," Filipek said.
Filipek says he had concerns about Berg. Court papers show she has a history of drug abuse. Filipek says he was fighting for custody.
"That was my priority was that she was safe," Filipek said. "If you're going to do what you're going to do, don't destroy a child's life. That's selfish."
Even though his daughter can't reach out for him anymore, Filipek says he's never going to stop holding Briella in his heart.
"You think, 'Why wasn't I there to protect her, when she was going through that?'" Filipek said.
There is a GoFundMe account to help with Briella's funeral expenses. Filipek says he wants to use whatever money is left to donate to the Glory House in Briella's name, to help others fighting addiction.