A Texas woman has been charged with child neglect in connection to the death of her 9-year-old daughter, whose body was found inside a refrigerator in June.
The Associated Press reports Amber Keyes, 35, was being held Wednesday on a charge of serious bodily injury to a child.
Houston police say Keyes has not been charged with killing her daughter, Ayahna Comb, but the neglect charge is related to the girl’s death.
Authorities discovered the body of Ayahna Comb stuffed into the crisper drawer of her mother’s refrigerator in June.
Police say they believe Ayahna died in January. Her body weighed just 14 pounds when it was discovered.
Keyes turned herself in to authorities in June but was released and not charged with a crime.
But the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide in October after an autopsy determined the girl, who had cerebral palsy, died of malnutrition and dehydration. The malnutrition was complicated by Ayahna’s cerebral palsy and skin ulcers which had spread to her bones and infected them, officials told KHOU News.
Tricia Bentley, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science, said the ruling was delayed for months partly because of the victim’s age and because investigators were waiting for results from more extensive testing.
“It usually takes a little bit longer to classify a child's death,” Bentley explained to the Houston Chronicle. “Doctors look for signs of child abuse, and that takes longer.”
Keyes reportedly told investigators that Ayahna, who was confined to a wheelchair and had to be fed by bottle, was “always difficult to feed.” Court documents indicate she told authorities her daughter stopped breathing one night in January and she tried to administer CPR but Ayahna could not be revived.
Keyes reportedly told investigators she panicked and put the girl’s body in the refrigerator, where, police say, it was later discovered by Keyes’ younger daughter and some neighborhood friends as they rummaged for snacks.
Child Protective Services removed the other child from the home and placed her in the custody of relatives of her father.
Keyes appeared in court Wednesday. Her attorney did not comment on the case. Keyes’ bond is set for $50,000.