A 25-year-old woman and her 34-year-old boyfriend are scheduled to be arraigned on charges of murder and child abuse tomorrow morning in connection with the apparent drowning of a 6-month-old girl in Dumfries on Friday, a Prince William County police detective said.
Alison Nicole Spivey and Stephen Randall Wendell were arrested Friday night after detectives found evidence that they put Spivey's daughter, Josephine Emma Mott, in the bathtub of their mobile home and left her unattended with the water running until the tub overflowed, Detective Dennis Mangan said yesterday.
Mangan said there was some indication that Spivey and Wendell might have fallen asleep but that detectives were still trying to determine what happened.
Spivey and Wendell are scheduled to be arraigned in Prince William County Juvenile Domestic Relations Court, Mangan said. They are being held without bond at the Prince William Regional Adult Detention Center.
Firefighters and police officers arrived at the couple's home, a 14-foot-wide, 72-foot-long grayish blue trailer in the Grayson Village section of Dumfries, after someone called at 12:30 p.m. Friday to report an unconscious person. Firefighters attempted to revive the child, but she died after being taken to Potomac Hospital, Mangan said. He said further medical tests would be done to establish the cause of death.
The couple's home is one of the smaller and older trailers on Prince William Circle, neighbors said. The street is separated by a sound barrier from the Dumfries Road exit from Interstate 95.
A neighbor, Sandra Stone, said, "People here keep pretty much to themselves." She said she did not know the couple. Mangan said Wendell was not the child's father. The father has been notified of his daughter's death, Mangan said, but he had no other information about him. Mangan said detectives searched the home and got hair and blood samples from Spivey and Wendell.
Virginia court records say Spivey pleaded guilty to a charge of heroin possession in 1998 and a charge of cocaine possession in 1999.
A study of police reports from 1996 through 1999 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 459 young children had drowned in bathtubs, buckets, toilets, spas, hot tubs and other containers of water. Of that number, 292 drowned in bathtubs, mostly in cases in which the person watching the child had left the room.
The report warned that a child can drown even in the short time it takes to get a towel or answer the phone. In 29 of the bathtub drownings, the victims were using bath seats, the report said.