MAPLEWOOD, Mo. (AP) — Police investigating the death of a baby who died at a home day care in suburban St. Louis found the owner smelling of alcohol and toddlers restrained in playpens and scattered all over her house, according to police and court documents.
Emergency workers were called to the home in Maplewood Nov. 16 for a 3-month-old girl in cardiac arrest. Firefighters and paramedics found the girl "cool to the touch," with blue lips and "compression marks" on her face. They performed CPR, but the child was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
The day care owner was "acting hysterical," according to police and court documents obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , and told investigators the child rolled onto her stomach and stopped breathing. Law enforcement documents say officers smelled alcohol on the owner's breath and found an empty wine box in the trash.
The woman has not been arrested or charged.
The documents also described how officers allegedly found children restrained in playpens throughout the house.
According to the documents, police said there were children in the living room when they arrived. The woman initially told officers there was only one other child, on the second floor. Officers found that child in a playpen with a blanket on top, with heavy plastic shelving over the blanket to "keep the child from escaping," the documents said.
The woman then said another child was in a closet. Police found a male toddler in a playpen in the closet with hanging clothes.
The woman then revealed yet another child was in the basement. Documents say officers found a female toddler in a playpen with a blanket and shelving on top.
As officers were handcuffing the woman, they heard a noise, and found yet another toddler, a boy, in a closed, dark room with shelving and crates on top of a blanket keeping the child in, the documents said.
The day care has closed and the owner told a Post-Dispatch reporter she's moving. She said police mischaracterized conditions inside the home.
The owner said she put shelving on the playpens only to keep the children from climbing out when they awoke from naps, and to keep them from waking the other children. As soon as they would wake up, she said, they would call to her and she would go get them, she said.
The infant had just begun to flip onto her stomach the day of her death, and she texted the girl's parents to alert them, the woman said. She said she called 911 as soon as she realized the girl was not breathing, and tried to perform CPR.
The woman said she rarely drinks, but did the night before the baby's death. She does not know the result of the blood test.
"I love my babies. I love my babies. I love my babies so much," she said.