Two-year-old Maddigan McCarthy of Berkeley, New Jersey, was found drowned in a next-door neighbor’s swimming pool Monday night. New details have emerged about what happened shortly before the heartbreaking tragedy, and police are still attempting to figure out how the little girl got out of her own house, with her parents seemingly right there — as well as whether to charge the neighbors with any sort of a crime, for allegedly leaving their pool unprotected.
Under New Jersey law, outdoor in-ground pools are required to be surrounded by a barrier of at least four-feet in height. Such a barrier would likely have prevented Maddigan from getting near the pool, where she was found floating in the shallow end less than an hour after her parents reported her missing.
But according to a report by New Jersey local cable TV news station News 12 the pool was protected by a run-down, chicken-wire fence, which the station photographed for its report.
The poorly-maintained fence had a large gap, and police believe that Maddigan McCarthy made her way through that gap to the pool.
When a News 12 reporter knocked on the door of the neighbors who own the pool, a woman refused to open the door and demanded that the reporter leave the premises.
What investigators have not been able to determine is how the child got out of her parents sight and out of a side door. From there, she wandered into the neighbors’ yard, with the pool.
According to a family friend, Denise Capizzi, Maddigan’s mom had just finished bathing the little girl and her dad had put her in a couch in front of a TV while he prepared to do laundry. The couple also have two other children who live in the home.
But at some point, little Maddigan made her way out of the house.
According to police, drugs — evidence of heroin and marijuana — were found in the home of parents Robert Trella, Jr., 41, and Brigitte McCarthy, 31, and Trella was arrested for attempting to destroy evidence, a marijuana cigarette.
Brigitte McCarthy has been hospitalized after her daughter’s death, according to the News 12 report. The exact cause of her hospitalization has not been made public.
Capizzi says she has started a fundraising effort to pay for a funeral for Maddigan McCarthy. The child’s dad, a construction worker, in addition to being badly distraught over the death of his daughter, does not have enough money to pay for a funeral.
[Images: News 12 New Jersey TV]