CHICAGO (STMW) — A 7-month-old girl found in a snowsuit and blanket in a “very warm” Lawndale apartment died in part from dehydration and overheating.
It was the third time Erica Hampton had left her three young children home alone in her apartment in the 3700 block of West 13th Street in the past 10 days, prosecutors said.
Hampton, 25, is charged with one count of felony child endangerment for the death of her daughter, 7-month-old Lamya Hampton, authorities said. She was also charged with two misdemeanors.
She appeared before Judge Donald Panarese on Friday wearing a heavy black winter coat and blue jeans. She was ordered held on a $250,000 bond.
The infant was found unresponsive after Hampton’s 2-year-old daughter knocked on a neighbor’s door looking for food about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dibler.
The neighbor entered Hampton’s residence and found a 6-year-old girl and the infant home alone in the “very warm” apartment, Dibler said. The baby was wearing a snowsuit, covered in a blanket and strapped into a car seat, which was lying on its side on top of a bunk bed in the children’s bedroom.
Lamya was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was declared dead a short time later, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. She had a post-mortem core temperature of 100.6 degrees, prosecutors said.
An autopsy determined the infant was neglected. She was dehydrated, had severely dry skin from eczema, severe diaper rash and a “foul odor” from lack of bathing, Dibler said.
“Also examined was the diaper that accompanied the victim and found it had been soiled multiple times with feces and urine which indicate that it had not been changed for substantial amount of time,” Dibler said.
The medical examiner’s office determined the snowsuit contributed to the elevated core temperature, and dehydration and overheating were contributing factors in her death, Dibler said.
Wednesday was the third time the children were left home alone in the apartment in the past 10 days, Dibler said. A neighbor found the 6-year-old and 2-year-old naked in the hallway about 7 p.m. Dec. 1. The children also knocked on a neighbor’s door looking for food Dec. 9.
The first time the children were left home alone the neighbor took them for the night, Dibler said. The neighbor called police the second time, and the infant’s father took her and the 2-year-old. The 6-year-old stayed with the neighbor.
“She’s a good person. I really can’t understand how this happened,” Tyisha Kinsey, 27, who lives across the street, said. “That’s why it’s so sad. God. She took care of those kids. I never seen her neglect them or anything.
Hampton admitted to leaving the children unattended, Dibler said.
She is the “sole support” of her two surviving children, public defender Steve Stach said. She has a high school degree and has been working at the Sears/Kmart warehouse the past two weeks.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is investigating allegations of neglect. The two other children are in protective custody.
DCFS said it has no prior reports regarding the family.
Hampton will be back in court Dec. 24.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)