Parents have been charged in the death of their toddler son as a result of neglect and hyperthermia during a drug binge.
Kathleen Peacock and Lucas Barnes of St. Charles, Missouri, are facing charges felony child abuse and manufacture of methamphetamine in a residence with a child present, reported St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The couple’s son, 2-year-old Braydon Barnes, was found dead in his crib in the back room of the family’s mobile home on Dec. 20. Paramedics stated the child had been dead for a while.
Local police state that the child was ignored for 38 hours while the couple was on a weekend drug binge at their home. The boy’s parents were allegedly cooking methamphetamine at the time of the child’s death, and ignored the child’s cries.
During the incident, a space heater was running in the boy’s room. It had no thermostat to automatically turn off when the room was warm. Investigators believe the couple was in the residence the entire time.
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“It’s a crime of neglect,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar. “We believe that due to their intoxication with controlled substances, they didn’t have the typical faculties required to properly care for the child.”
Lohmar said the home has been declared uninhabitable due to trash, feces and other extremely unsanitary conditions.
The mother already faced a child endangerment charge in August after reportedly driving under the influence while the child was in the car. She is also pregnant. “What happens with that child remains to be seen at this point,” Lohmar said.
According to a court report, the autopsy stated that the toddler was “generally malnourished and very thin” and had not eaten for at least two days before his death.
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Relatives and neighbors distanced themselves from the couple due to their drug use, reports KTVI.
"This is such a tragic event that's happened,” said Jill Kneemiller of the St. Louis Crisis Nursery. “I think if more people knew of our services. Knew that we are here and available and didn't have that fear of using us. We would see more use of the nursery."
If found guilty, Peacock and Barnes each face between 10 and 30 years in prison.