DeShelle Atkison was arrested last year on child neglect charges after her six-month-old baby girl was found dead in her crib, surrounded by garbage and filth. Now, the 33-year-old mother-of-three other children ages 6, 9, and 13, has admitted in court that she starved her helpless infant daughter to death, refusing to seek medical attention for the little girl, according to a report in The Kansas City Star.
On Wednesday, Atkison, of Independence, Missouri, learned exactly what the consequences of her horrifying decision will be.
In confessing to doing exactly the opposite of what a mother should do for her baby, Atkison claimed that she never took little Betsy to a doctor because she feared that she would be accused of mistreating the little girl and that the child’s father would try to take custody of his daughter.
But after his daughter was found dead on January 31, 2014, dad Lonnie Aders said he was riddled with guilt at his own failure to take any action to save little Betsy. Even though Aders was not married to Atkison and the parents did not live together, Aders said he visited his daughter frequently and in the weeks before her death, he became increasingly worried about her deteriorating health.
“I just started crying because that’s how bad she was,” Aders told WDAF-TV News in Kansas City. But Atkison refused to heed his pleas to take the child to a hospital. “She kept saying ‘That baby’s fine. That baby’s fine.’”
Aders, who told WDAF that he visits the child’s grave regularly, covering little Betsy’s resting place with toys, flowers, and even a teddy bear, said that he took no action on his own because he is not listed on the baby’s birth certificate, leaving him open, he believed, to accusation that he abducted the child.
RELATED STORIES: Malnourished Mom, Passed-Out Drunk Dad Busted Over Feces-Smeared Baby Stephen Auker: Dad Who Starved Toddler Twins Nearly To Death Learns His Fate Randall Lints And Alexandrea Chadwick: Dad, Girlfriend Starved Boy Despite DCF Watch
“I wish I would’ve taken a kidnapping charge. It eats at me every day,” he said. “Just seeing little kids play and just thinking of her, wondering what she was going to be like at that age, it just kills me.”
When detectives showed up at Atkison’s home in Independence, they found Betsy unresponsive in a crib that had been pushed against a draft window. And that was far from the worst of it. Police reports said that Betsy’s crib was filled with soiled and stained sheets.
Bags of trash, some of them ripped open and leaking, as well as rat feces, littered the floor of the home.
Reportedly, Atkison admitted that in the final four days of little Betsy’s life, she fed the six-month-old girl nothing but six ounces of formula and no more than four small bites of baby food each day.
The baby was pallid and so emaciated from hunger that her ribs were clearly visible through the skin on her chest, according to the police records. Atkison initially told the investigators that the child was sick with “a cold,” and that she was administering some kind of medication.
But the medical examiner who checked the deceased baby ruled that Betsy died of pneumonia, which she contracted as a direct result of “severe acute malnutrition and neglect.” The examiner ruled the little girl’s death a homicide.
“It is my hope that the senseless and tragic death of this innocent child reminds us, that as a community, our greatest responsibility is to protect those that cannot protect themselves,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said, in a prepared statement, after Atkison was sentenced this week.
The three other children of DeShelle Atkison were removed from her home, and she was ordered by the court to have no contact with the kids until they reach the age of 17. She was sentenced to a 13-year prison term as well as a concurrent seven years, on one count of child neglect and an additional charge of child endangerment, respectively. The court ordered that Atkison must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence — slightly more than 11 years — before the mom-of-four becomes eligible for parole.
[Featured Photos: DeShelle Atkinson Facebook]