Toddler dies after parents ‘purposely’ left her in car overnight, police say

Investigators determined that the two-year-old child was left in the car for nearly 14 hours

Andrea Blanco
Monday 22 May 2023 17:20 BST

Related: Missing man found dead in submerged car

A Florida couple has been accused of intentionally leaving their two-year-old daughter to die in a hot car.

The little girl’s parents, 23-year-old Kathreem Adams and 32-year-old Christopher McLean, first told authorities they found their daughter unconscious inside their home in the community of Prosperity, Holmes County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff John Tate said in a press conference last week.

It was later determined that the child had been left in the car for nearly 14 hours. Ms Adams and Mr McLean have been charged with child neglect and possession of drug paraphernalia, with more charges expected to come this week.

Deputies responded to a 911 call in the community of Prosperity on 16 May. According to authorities, the dispatcher was unable to obtain any information from the woman who made the call because she was screaming.

After arriving at the property, they were met outside by a person carrying the unresponsive toddler. Deputies and emergency responders performed CPR on the child but she was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.

While interrogating the parents, officers reportedly learned that Ms Adams had picked up her daughter and her 4-year-old sibling from a relative’s home after leaving work around midnight.

The couple and the two toddlers drove home together, but the youngest child fell asleep in her seat. Ms Adams and Mr McLean then allegedly “purposely ... left the child in the car throughout the night.”

“The baby was asleep in the car seat. They decided to leave the child in the car and went inside and ultimately fell asleep and did not wake up or did not realize that the child was in the car until around 3.41pm that afternoon,” Sheriff Tate said last week.

23-year-old Christopher McLean and Kathreem Adams and 32-year-old

Although Ms Adams initially said that she had found her daughter in the home, deputies noticed that the minor’s body was “abnormally hot,” Sheriff Tate said.

The little girl’s body temperature was later found to be 107 degrees. The department is now pulling phone records to determine what exactly happened during the more than 12 hours that the child was left in the car.

Investigators also seized methamphetamines and pipes in the child’s bag, while CBD gummies and marijuana were found at the home. The parents have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia but additional manslaughter or murder charges are expected after forensic reports are completed.

Sheriff Tate said that the father has been uncooperative with the investigation, but the mother has implicated him in the incident. Ms Adams reportedly told police that they went inside to smoke marijuana after arriving home.

The couple’s four-year-old child is now in the custody of the Department of Child Services.

“I honestly believe methamphetamines are the [reason] behind this death. That’s what happens when you use drugs, you lose sense of what’s going on in reality and this kind of stuff happens,” Sheriff Tate said.

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