The death of Prince McLeod Rams (Part 3)

Prince Rams and his father, Joaquin Rams, in Manassas last year. Joaquin Rams is now charged with the murder of his son. His other son was cropped out of the photo by the defense team, at Rams' request. (courtesy Joaquin Rams)

Prince Rams and his father, Joaquin Rams, in Manassas last year. Joaquin Rams is now charged with the murder of his son. His other son was cropped out of the photo by the defense team, at Rams’ request. (courtesy Joaquin Rams)

Note: This is the third part of the Prince Rams story. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

The second unsupervised visit between Joaquin Rams and his toddler son Prince was on Sept. 8. While at the house in Manassas City that Rams shared with his 13-year-old son and an adult couple, Prince had a seizure, and Rams called for an ambulance.

Hera McLeod, Prince’s mother, drove down quickly from Maryland and removed Prince from Prince William County Hospital, where the toddler was taken. “He was still feverish and appeared to be struggling to walk,” McLeod wrote on both her Cappuccino Queen blog and on Lovefraud.com. She drove him to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, closer to her home.

At the hospital, medical records provided by Rams’s lawyers show that Prince had two more seizures. Prince was discharged the next morning, but had a fourth seizure shortly before he arrived at his pediatrician’s office, the medical records show. The records also show that Prince was dizzy two days after the series of seizures when he visited a neurologist, and that he may also have suffered from respiratory syncytial virus.

Rams claims he was not told of the fourth seizure, according to his lawyers and a blog he established (“King Latte”) to respond to McLeod’s blog. McLeod wrote that the supervisor who handled the visitation exchanges notified Rams that Prince “had several follow on seizures.”

Four seizures in a 24-hour period is called a complex febrile seizure, which requires much closer attention than a simple seizure, according to medical experts. Complex febrile seizures can be indicative of a range of disorders, including epilepsy and Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy marked by a series of febrile seizures in early childhood.

William A. Catterall, a University of Washington professor and former chair of the physiology and pharmacology section of the National Academy of Sciences, said, “It’s very rare for a child to have a series of seizures like this without some underlying disorder.” Anup Patel, a child neurologist and director of the complex epilepsy clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said, “Children with complex febrile seizures may have risk factors for developing epilepsy,” depending on the type of seizures and any abnormalities in the brain. “We need to look at the complex kids more closely.”

On Sept. 20, Prince had another seizure, his medical records show. After a fever and a six-minute seizure he was taken to the emergency room.

“Baby boy had another rough 72 hours which landed him two more hospital visits,” McLeod wrote on the Lovefraud.com blog on Sept. 26. “We started out in the hospital a few days ago after he spiked another fever, had another seizure, and this time turned blue in the process.

“There has been nothing in my life more terrifying than seeing my son not able to breathe and appear as if he is dying. I had to simply hold him and wait for an ambulance as there was nothing medically I could do to help him,” she wrote.

The boy’s father was not told of this incident, his lawyers said. The lawyers hired a former Prince William homicide detective, Todd Troutner, who obtained the records for it, as well as for the apparent June seizure and the fourth seizure on Sept. 9.

Another unsupervised visit with Rams was scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Oct. 20. But two nights before that, Prince had another febrile seizure, according to medical records and McLeod’s blog. “I called the ambulance, per usual,” the anxious mother wrote.

McLeod said she notified Diane Tillery of the seizure. Tillery, the retired Montgomery County police officer who earlier supervised Rams’s visits with his son, testified last week that she notified Rams. The next night, Prince had another high fever, his mother wrote, but no seizure. On Oct. 20, as the time for the exchange neared, Prince began having a fever again. But McLeod, trying to abide by the court order for visitation, gave Prince some Tylenol and handed her son over to Tillery. Tillery then drove him to a police station to meet his father.

Rams and his teen son drove Prince to Manassas. Timothy M. Olmstead, Rams’s lawyer, said Rams, his teen son and their two housemates played with the toddler and fed him, and that sometime after noon the boy seemed drowsy. They placed him in a crib for a nap.

While McLeod waited for Prince’s return, she posted a number of comments on Lovefraud.com about the day, wondering whether she should have allowed Prince to go on the visit with Rams. “I felt so bad for baby boy,” she wrote at 1:34 p.m. “because it was obvious he wasn’t feeling 100 percent when I dropped him out this morning. He didn’t wake up with a fever, but the fever literally spiked as I was taking him out of the car for the visit. Baby boy has been fighting sickness for the last two months.”

In Manassas, Rams lay down for a nap himself, in his own bedroom, Olmstead said. He said Prince was in a room with Rams’s teenage son, who was playing video games. At about 2:20 p.m., Olmstead said, Rams got up, walked past the room with his two sons and noticed Prince shaking in his crib.

Olmstead said Rams scooped up the toddler, yelled for someone to call 911, and rushed Prince into the bathroom to try to cool him down. He started a bath with cold water but there was no stopper in the tub, so he cradled the toddler in his arm and tried to splash water on him, Olmstead said.

The 911 dispatcher told the housemate, Roger Jestice, to take Prince out of the tub and begin CPR on the floor. Olmstead said Rams and Jestice followed the dispatcher’s instructions, reporting that they saw pink mucus coming out of Prince’s nose. At 2:27 p.m., paramedics arrived, and found Prince with no heartbeat and not breathing.

The EMT report shows they left the house at 2:36 p.m. and arrived at Prince William County Hospital at 2:39 p.m. Prince still was not breathing. At 2:44 p.m., his temperature was taken, apparently for the first time, according to Olmstead: It was 91.2 degrees, the records show.

At 3 p.m., about 40 minutes after the 911 call, the emergency staff at Prince William County Hospital revived Prince Rams. But his brain damage was massive. He was then transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital

McLeod rushed to the hospital, where she said she was told that Prince “suffered cardiac arrest.” Prince was placed on a ventilator and kept alive for a day, but there was no improvement. He was pronounced dead on Oct. 21, 2012.

Tomorrow: The arrest of Joaquin Rams.

Previously: Part 1: “Either he’s the most unlucky person around, or he’s a serial killer.”

Part 2: Joaquin Rams’s past, the birth of Prince, the parents’ sudden separation and the ensuing custody battle.

Part 4: The death of Prince McLeod Rams (Part 4)

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The death of Prince McLeod Rams (Part 2)