Somehow, DePasquale said, after stepping out of the room “for two seconds,” her baby had become entangled in Halloween lights that ended up wrapped around her neck.
The child — identified by police as Mia Rice — had stopped breathing and wasn’t showing any other signs of life, DePasquale said.
For nearly seven excruciating minutes, the 911 operator calmly led the distraught mother through CPR as she attempted to bring her child back to life.
“Oh my God, I don’t know what to do,” DePasquale screamed between chest compressions.
“My children were out here playing and I came out here and the lights were wrapped around her neck and now she’s bleeding,” she added. “I don’t know what to do!”
A recording of the 911 call, which took place late on the night of Nov. 10, was provided by the Oviedo Police Department.
At various points during the recording, DePasquale told the operator that her daughter took a breath and “spit something up,” but the mother’s frantic observations made it difficult to tell whether the baby had begun breathing again consistently or had only taken a single breath.
Police responded to the home for a report of “a child in cardiac arrest with something wrapped around her neck.” The Oviedo Fire Department transported the baby to an emergency room, where doctors pronounced her dead, police said.
DePasquale told detectives she left her two children on a couch in the living room, watching television, while she stepped away to take a shower.
While she was showering, she told investigators, she heard her 2-year-old son apologizing for hurting his little sister. After coming out of the bathroom to check on her children, she told investigators, she discovered her daughter “partially hanging in the living room with a strand of holiday lights wrapped around her neck,” police said.
The baby was unresponsive at the time, she told investigators.
Investigators said it didn’t take long to notice multiple inconsistencies in DePasquale’s story.
“When observing the residence,” a detective wrote in the arrest report, “I did not notice any signs of forced entry or any suggestion that anyone else was inside the residence besides DePasquale.”
The mother “stated she was alone with her two children and only out of their sight for a few moments which would eliminate the possibility that an unknown third party entered the residence,” the detective added.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that investigators also noticed that DePasquale’s shower was dry, her feet were unclean, and she still had on makeup and jewelry. Police said a towel that DePasquale claimed she used after stepping out of the shower was also dry, the paper reported.
When confronted, the detective wrote, DePasquale said she was too distraught to talk; she later requested a lawyer and refused to speak with the detective.
“Additionally, the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by strangulation and informed detectives the injuries appeared to be a result of more force than the slightly older brother could have made,” police said.
DePasquale was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder for killing her daughter.
The 27-year-old is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 3, her court-appointed attorney said.
“It’s a very terrible tragedy and our client is very upset about it,” said the lawyer, Tim Dale Caudill. “We are in the very beginning of conducting our very own investigation.”
“I don’t have discovery from the prosecutors office and I can’t speak to our defense at this point because it’s too early,” he added.