A New York mother is facing a first-degree manslaughter charge in the death of her baby girl whose body was “extremely cold.”
Officials say the 15-month-old may have been placed in a freezer.
Police received a 911 call at about 5:30 a.m. Friday from an apartment in Mount Vernon, N.Y., according to a statement from the mayor’s office. Officials said 15-month-old Samia Yusef may have been dead for several hours when police found her. She was pronounced dead a half-hour later.
“It was a gruesome discovery that shocked even our most senior officers on the job,” Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate said in the statement.
A felony complaint obtained by The Washington Post states that Samia’s mother, Dasia Bartee, 26, struck the child in the back “six to seven times” with a closed fist to stop her from crying. She suffered significant injuries to her face, a lumbar fracture and internal bleeding.
The alleged crime happened just after 10 p.m. Thursday, officials said.
“This child clearly died a painful, horrible death,” Westchester Assistant District Attorney Karen Herbert said during Bartee’s arraignment Monday, according to the Journal News.
Prosecutors recommended that Bartee be held on $1 million bail, according to the paper, but a Mount Vernon city court judge set her bail at $50,000. Her defense attorney told the judge she had no criminal record.
Bartee had tears in her eyes as she was led out of the courtroom, the paper reported.
Mount Vernon resident Travis Brown, who’s known Bartee for a few years, told the paper that he was shocked by the allegations, calling her “a good, active mom.”
“I’ve never seen her violent with her kids,” Brown told the paper. “I don’t know what could have happened.”
But Herbert, the assistant district attorney, said Bartee had an “extensive” history with Child Protective Services.
Two other children who were in the apartment when the incident happened were not harmed. Authorities said they have been placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
“No child, no infant, no toddler should be subjected to that type of violence,” Mayor Richard Thomas told New York CBS affiliate.
In a statement, Thomas called the toddler’s death “completely unnecessary.” He also urged the public to reach out and help anyone who’s struggling as a parent.
“Tragic deaths such as Samia’s do not have to happen,” Thomas said.