BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – An Oklahoma mother is charged with child neglect after her 3-month-old baby girl was found dead.
Authorities say 27-year-old Brittany Cherokee Dawn Bell’s daughter was found dead on January 8 inside their apartment in Bartlesville.
Bell initially told police she put the baby in a crib and when she returned to check on her, she had died, according to the Tulsa World.
However, she later changed her story, telling officers she fell asleep watching a movie with her 18-month-old twins and feared they may have smothered the baby by sitting on her.
The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death as “sudden unexplained infant death with manner of death undetermined.”
District Attorney Kevin Buchanan said his office is pursuing the charge of child neglect, rather than homicide, because the Medical Examiner could not determine the exact cause of death.
An investigator said the baby had been lying on the floor dead for so long that roaches started to feed on her lifeless body.
“Based on Bell’s own statements, I can conclude that she laid the baby on the floor and fell asleep without waking during which time Alice may have been suffocated by one or both of her twins or became distressed due to the surface of the floor and suffocated,” Investigator Jim Warring stated in the affidavit. “Also enough time passed that roaches were able to start feeding on both the baby’s legs and head. All of this took place less than 10 feet from the couch where Bell was reportedly sleeping.”
Bell’s twins were removed from her custody shortly after the infant was found dead.
Bell reportedly has other children, but does not have custody of them, according to the Tulsa World.
Her bond was set at $10,000.