Kathleen Steele was arrested on aggravated manslaughter charges after her 6-year-old son brutally beat her 13-day-old baby to death. The Florida woman was the star of the reality show, I'm Pregnant and...55 Years Old.
Steele, 62, left her son and baby daughter in a hot car alone for about 40 minutes so she could go shopping, according to police records shared by the Daily Mail. Her 3-year-old son, Phillip, was also in the car at the time of the baby's death on Monday.
The 13-day-old baby girl, also named Kathleen, was reportedly in fine health when she and her brothers went on a visit to the pediatrician's office on Monday morning.
While at the doctor's office, Frankie, the 6-year-old son, dropped his mother's cell phone and shattered the screen. Steele stopped at a cellphone repair store in St. Petersburg to get it fixed.Kathleen Steele opted against taking her three young children into the store with her and instead reportedly rolled up the car windows and left them alone inside for a little more than a half hour. Temperatures in the Florida city were approximately 81 degrees that morning.
The 13-day-old baby started to cry while being stuck in the hot car, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the media. Frankie took the baby out of her car seat and eventually started to beat her to make the crying stop. When the 6-year-old boy was questioned by the police, he not only confessed to what he had done but described the horrific incident in great detail, the sheriff also said.
"I took the baby, and I slammed her like this, and slammed her down, and pushed her up into the ceiling," the little boy said, according to Sheriff Gualtieri.
"What he was talking about when he pushed her up into the ceiling, he was holding her up, then he said he was flipping her this way and flipping her that way and she would fall. The way he was describing it is he was tossing that baby around like a ragdoll," the Florida sheriff added. "The best way I can describe it is, he pummeled her. I'm telling you, this baby's face was a mess. There was no mistaking the condition that this 13-day-old infant was in."
Sheriff Gualtieri also believes the newborn baby girl was beaten so badly she likely died while still inside her mother's car.When Kathleen Steele finally left the cellphone repair store and went back to her children in the hot car, the 6-year-old boy said he told his mother the baby was in "serious" condition. If the boy's accounting is accurate, his mother ignored him and decided to make another stop at an Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
When the family arrived home about a half hour later, the reality show mom reportedly called a neighbor, who happens to be a nurse, for help. The nurse quickly realized the 13-day-old baby was dead and called 911. Baby Kathleen was officially pronounced dead when she arrived at St. Petersburg General Hospital.
The autopsy report on the newborn baby girl revealed she had multiple skull fractures and sustained significant head trauma.
After being charged with aggravated manslaughter and neglect on Thursday, the judge hearing the case set a $100,000 bond. Before allowing Kathleen Steele to bond out, the judge ordered her not to have contact with anyone younger than 18 while on bail. Her two sons have been temporarily placed in state custody, ABC News reports.
Robert Love, the reality show mom's attorney, told reporters his client is "devastated."
During her bond hearing, she only spoke two words, "Yes sir," in response to the judge asking if she understood the charges levied against her.
Frankie Steele, due to his young age, has not been charged with a crime.
Kathleen Steele bonded out. Authorities making arrangements to take her to an "undisclosed location" for safety pic.twitter.com/Wy278pltjpDuring an interview with WTSP, neighbors claimed the 6-year-old boy was unhappy about having another child in the house. Just before his mother gave birth. a fire was started inside the home. It is not currently known how the small blaze began. Kathleen Steele was under investigation by children's services for an incident which occurred three days before the baby was born. Because such investigations are confidential, it is not known if the case is related to the household fire.
— Crystal Clark (@1crystalclark) August 13, 2016
When the family was staying at a Treasure Island hotel after the baby was born, Kathleen Steele reportedly dropped the baby from her carrier, causing the infant to fall down the stairs. The baby reportedly suffered a brain bleed from the fall. Steele said she forgot to strap her daughter into the carrier properly. The incident was investigated and ruled an accident.
Kathleen Steele and her husband Phil got married when they were in their mid-40s. They couple reportedly tried to have children for several years, but Kathleen suffered multiple miscarriages. In 2010, the financial adviser and her husband became the focus of the I'm Pregnant and...55 Years Old reality show when she became pregnant with Frankie.
"I was going to try no matter what. We had been trying too long and lost many. You're sort of in denial," Kathleen said on the reality show. "I'm not a quitter. I don't like to fail. I tend to be an over-achiever and a perfectionist."
The reality show mom later said she wanted "as many children as possible."
Phil Steele died of cancer just one year after the reality show began, but she conceived two more children using his frozen sperm.
"Steele made statements in the last couple days that she was not finished, and apparently there's more frozen sperm and she wants to have another baby boy. Something is seriously messed up with that," the Florida sheriff said.
A neighbor of Steele's told reporters the reality show mom was having difficulty handling the three children she already had. Other neighbors reportedly told the media Kathleen was a fairly inattentive mother and said the boys were often unsupervised and appeared to be struggling with behavioral issues.
"I don't know how a kid can turn that bad that quick," the neighbor added.
When the Pinellas County Sheriff spent an hour interviewing Kathleen Steele after her baby's murder, she did not reportedly once ask about the whereabouts of her two sons.
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