A Missouri woman was arrested on Friday after allegedly allowing her sick, six-month-old daughter to starve to death.
Deshelle Atkison, 31, is in jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond on charges of abuse that resulted in the death of a child and first-degree child endangerment.
Her infant daughter, Betsey, passed away Jan. 31 from pneumonia. An autopsy completed March 31 proved the baby was also suffering from “severe acute malnutrition and neglect.”
KCTV5 News reports that a good deal of evidence of neglect was apparent before the autopsy was even performed. Paramedics who responded to the 911 call the family placed when baby Betsey stopped breathing said she had dirty toe and fingernails. The police said that there was evidence to suggest rats living in the home. Court documents report that the area where the child slept was “filthy and filled with clutter and leaking garbage bags,” her sheets were “dirty and stained.” She herself “appeared very thin with rib bones showing through the skin,” according to the documents.
Atkison admitted that in the four days before her daughter died, she had only been feeding her “approximately 6 ounces of formula a day and 3 to 4 bites of baby food a day.”
She knew the baby was sick, but told police that she didn’t take her to the doctor sooner because she was scared. Atkison was apparently afraid if something was wrong, she would get the blame and the baby’s father would try to get custody of her.
KCTV5 reports that court documents say Atkison had sought medical care for her daughter and gotten medication for her, although they do not specify when. It is unclear whether that is a fact or a claim from Atkison, however, Betsey received no treatment on the day she passed away.
Atkison has four surviving kids, ages 5 to 13, all of whom are currently in the care of state social workers. She received special instructions to have no contact with either her children or any child under the age of 17.
Atkison’s mother, who also lives in the home, told KCTV5 that it was the disease that caused the infant to pass away, not her daughter’s actions.