A 2-year-old Missouri toddler died due to extreme heat after being left alone in a room for 38 hours and the parents were charged with felony child abuse and drug charges, officials said on Tuesday.
Officials said it was initially unclear how the the St. Charles child died, but it’s now a criminal investigation, Fox 2 Now reported.
The child died of hyperthermia, or extreme heat, after being left in a room with a space heater that never turned off, officials said.
The mother, Kathleen M. Peacock, 22, discovered her child, 2-year-old Braydon, had died and immediately went to a neighbor’s home in the Elm Point Mobile Home Village.
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St. Charles Police said the parents were cooking meth during the time of the boy’s death. The couple apparently ignored the child’s cries for help while they were on drug binge, the station reported.
Peacock and the father, 25-year-old Lucas Barnes, are facing charges of child abuse and neglect, as well as manufacturing methamphetamine. They could face 10 to 30 years in prison on each charge. The two were being held Tuesday at the St. Charles Police Department, with their bail set at $100,000 for each.
“It’s a crime of neglect,” Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We believe that due to their intoxication with controlled substances, they didn’t have the typical faculties required to properly care for the child.”
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An autopsy in the court record said the boy was “generally malnourished and very thin” and at the time of his death, he had not eaten in two days.
Lohmar added that Peacock is expecting another child.
“What happens with that child remains to be seen at this point,” he said.
The mobile home has been condemned and declared uninhabitable as the “living conditions inside the house were so poor,” CNN said, citing authorities.
Police said they found meth-manufacturing materials in a trash can outside the home, NBC News reported.
Hyperthermia, which is different from a fever, is caused by exposure to extreme heat, or a combination of heat and humidity that overwhelms the body’s heat-regulating systems, the U.S. National Institute of Health says.
According to the website:
To keep heat-related illnesses from becoming a dangerous heat stroke, remember to:
- Get out of the sun and into a cool place—air-conditioning is best.
- Drink fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Water, fruit, or vegetable juices are good choices.
- Shower, bathe, or at least sponge off with cool water.
- Lie down and rest in a cool place.
- Visit your doctor or an emergency room if you don’t cool down quickly.