Starved Baby Found: 22-Day-Old Child Dies Of Starvation As Parents Pig Out At Buffet [video]

A Starved Baby Found headline is bizarre on so many levels. In a shocking case of child neglect, abuse, and bad parenting — as some describe — the parents of a starved baby found, just 22-months-old, were charged with first-degree murder in Florida, according to a report by Reuters.

On Tuesday, police in Lakeland said Roy Stephens, 48, and Ruby Stephens, 23, of Indiana were dining at Golden Corral, a popular all-you-can-eat buffet franchise, on December 23 while their daughter was left unattended in their vehicle in the parking lot. Months ago, as the Inquisitr reported, another child was found alone in a car while the parent was gambling inside a casino in Mississippi. Luckily, the baby was unharmed.

During their visit, the mom made the grisly discovery after going outside to retrieve the child from her car seat. The couple called an emergency operator to report their unresponsive child. Police and paramedics arrived a short time later, but there was nothing they could do. The infant was pronounced dead at the hospital. Investigators say she died because she starved to death. Mike Link, assistant chief of Lakeland Police, held a news conference over the baby’s untimely death.

“She suffered tremendously over the 22 days that she was alive.”

A Polk County medical examiner said the child’s exact cause of death was due to starvation from malnourishment. The child’s birth at the time of death was only 4 pounds. By comparison, a newborn’s normal weight averages about 7.5 pounds, in a range of 5.5 pounds to 10 pounds, according to What to Expect.

The starved baby found was also severely dehydrated and appeared not to have taken in any sustenance for hours. The mother said she had been breastfeeding the child in intervals every few hours during their long road trip from Indiana. However, when investigators showed her results of the autopsy, she recanted her story and blamed heavy congestion for not being able to exit and take in a meal along the way.

The infant’s mom said her baby had “health issues,” and she planned to take her to a doctor. However, she missed a recent appointment. And, on the day the child was found starved to death, the mother wrapped the baby’s feet with a blanket because she noticed they were cold.

The woman’s husband is not the starved baby’s biological father, and, according to reports, he hasn’t been much of a presence in the child’s life from birth. Police say the man and woman were also traveling with two other children, who were found to be healthy and free of any medical problems. They both have been taken into child protective custody.

It’s unknown why the parents allowed the child to starve to death while they dined with relatives. No information is available on whether the prosecutor intends to seek the death sentence for the capital murder.

[Image via: Metro, HilaryWGraham]