Mystery shrouds the death of a 15-month-old toddler from Mount Vernon, Westchester County, New York, after her body was found inside a home on early Friday morning. According to a CBS Local News report, the toddler, later identified as baby Samia, was just 15 months old and lived with her mother in the same apartment where her body was discovered. The identity of the baby was confirmed by the local mayor's office as well as friends and neighbors. Officials are questioning the baby's mother, a woman identified as De'asia Bartee, regarding the incident. There were two other children aged 6 and 9 when police officials reached the home, the report added. Officials later confirmed that the two other children were also kids of De'asia Bartee. A few hours ago, reports came in that officials are charging baby Samia's mother with first-degree manslaughter.
It was on Friday morning that first responders reached the home following a 911 call alerting them about the situation. The call was reportedly made by a woman who was the child's aunt. Officials add that she was among one of the five adults that were inside the apartment when they reached the spot. The 911 caller reportedly told officials that the child was not breathing. Following the call, emergency services were quickly sent out.
#BREAKING De'asia Bartee will be arraigned Monday in #MountVernon charged in daughter's death @News12WC @News12HV pic.twitter.com/pOtMCyzCz7However, Baby Samia was reportedly long dead before emergency workers reached the home. They also reported that the room was extremely cold. Samia's body too was reportedly very cold, which has led investigators to believe that Samia was placed inside a freezer. As of now, it remains unclear as to how and when the toddler was kept inside the freezer. No official cause of death has been confirmed. Details are expected following an autopsy. Initial reports, however, add that there were several injuries in baby Samia's face leading several investigators to believe that the toddler was likely beaten or tortured before she was killed.
— Lisa Reyes (@LisaNews12) August 6, 2016
Meanwhile, people from the area have been left shocked at the death of little Samia. Several people had gathered outside the apartment where baby Samia was killed. They held a small vigil and placed stuffed teddy bears as part of a small memorial function. Among the people assembled outside the home was family friend Rejennae Everett who said, "I don't know what happened. I don't care what happened, I just want to hug them!"
Meanwhile, several neighbors claimed that they had seen the baby and her mother on Thursday. The toddler was reportedly crying at the time. However, to them, it looked like normal baby behavior. Moreover, there were no signs of injury either. Reacting to the incident, Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate said, "Anytime there's an infant death, absolutely, you always treat it as it it's a homicide. It's not the norm for a child to die. For any parent, as the mayor said, it's something, we go to the next level."
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas added, "The bottom line is no family should have to go through finding their infant deceased. Today's a sad day in Mount Vernon"
While officials are still questioning Baby Samia's mother De'asia Bartee, several neighbors have come to her defense saying that the mother could not have played a role in the death of the toddler. According to Mark, a man who lives in the same apartment complex, he has never seen anything wrong happening to the baby.
Spokesperson: De'asia Bartee expected charge: 1st degree manslaughter in toddler death #MountVernon @News12WC pic.twitter.com/7Absjcuyee"I see her taking the kids to school. She always had the baby in the stroller. It is surprising," Mark said. Other neighbors also only had good things to say about Bartee.
— Lisa Reyes (@LisaNews12) August 6, 2016
However, police officials did confirm that Child Protective Services had been called to the apartment in the past. They also add that an arrest in the case "is imminent."
[Image via Facebook/De'asia Bartee]