Richard Chin, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Published February 22 2014
Minn. mother charged with neglect after baby’s deathST. PAUL – A White Bear Lake woman faces felony charges of child neglect and child endangerment after her 8-month-old baby was found dead last year in a bed where it had been placed overnight with four older children, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Ramsey County District Court.
White Bear Lake police were called to East Metro Place, transitional housing for homeless families, at 5:30 a.m. Feb. 15, 2013, on a report of an infant “cold to the touch” and not breathing, according to the complaint.
The complaint continued:
A police sergeant arrived to find the mother, Freda Perdue, 33, standing next to the baby and crying. The baby wasn’t breathing, had no pulse and had what appeared to be blood surround his nostrils but no other signs of trauma.
Perdue said she had put the baby down on his back in the middle of a queen-sized mattress in a bedroom of her apartment unit at 10 p.m. the previous night. She said her three other sons and a neighbor boy were also sleeping on the mattress.
Perdue said she went to sleep in a different bedroom, but awoke shortly before 5:30 a.m. to check on the baby. She said she found him lying face-up in the middle of the mattress.
She said she woke up one of her sons and had him hand the baby to her.
Police said the mattress where the boys slept was on a box spring on the bedroom floor, with what appeared to be blood in the middle of the mattress. Two boys were asleep on the mattress while police were there. In the bedroom where Perdue slept “was a newer looking crib that was unused and neatly made,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said Perdue had been a subject of a child neglect report from Oct. 13, 2012, after Perdue reportedly slept with the baby and he suffered visible injuries.
“It was believed that Perdue had gotten drunk and rolled on top of the baby,” the complaint said.
“Another report from July 12, 2012, indicated Perdue was found asleep on top of her 6-week-old baby while intoxicated,” the complaint said.
The complaint said child protection services had provided Perdue with a crib, but she had ignored warnings regarding safe sleeping conditions for the baby.
The mother of the boy who slept over said she came to the apartment at 5:15 a.m. to get her son ready for school.
She saw the baby face-down in the middle of the mattress between two of Perdue’s other sons, the complaint said.
The neighbor said at 5:30 a.m. one of the boys came into her apartment and told her the baby wasn’t breathing.
Perdue’s 7-year-old son said Perdue was asleep in her room or watching a movie while the five children played and wrested in the bedroom unsupervised, the complaint said.
The neighbor boy who slept over said the baby was in bed with Perdue and kept crying, so the boys took him out of her bed, tried to pacify him, fed him and changed his diaper.
“Perdue would not get up so they brought the baby into the bedroom where they were playing. They placed the baby face-down in the middle of the bed,” the complaint said.
The baby was taken to St. John’s Hospital, but signs of rigor mortis indicated it had been dead for several hours, according to the complaint. An autopsy showed “no anatomic cause of death,” the complaint said.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.