LAKELAND, Fla. (PIX11) — A couple in Florida were arrested on murder charges, after a medical examiner said their baby died from malnutrition as a result of starvation.
WFLA reported 22-day-old Betsey Kee Stephens died while in the custody of her parents, Roy Allen Stephens, 48, and Ruby Angeline Stephens, 23.
The couple told police they were visiting from Indiana and were meeting family members at a Golden Corral restaurant on Dec. 23, when they discovered the baby was cold and unresponsive, according to a police statement.
The mother said she noticed the baby’s feet were cold earlier, so she covered them with a blanket. She checked them again before going into the restaurant — and that’s when they called 911.
The baby was deceased upon emergency officials’ arrival.
Police say a preliminary investigation indicates the baby was deceased for at least 3 and a half hours prior to the mother calling 911.
The infant had lost 2 pounds 9 ounces from the time of her birth 22 days earlier to her death, WFLA reported.
According to a report by the Medical Examiner, the infant had not been fed for several hours prior to her death, even though the mother told police that she breastfed the baby every 2-3 hours.
Two other children were in the car, a 1-year-old and 2-year-old, both appeared to be in good health and were placed in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The baby’s cause of death was “starvation due to neglect” and that the manner of death was “homicide,” according to the M.E.