- A 62-year-old mother was arrested on a charge of aggravated slay of her newborn baby committed by her six year-old son
- The mother seemed overwhelmed and ill-equipped to care for her three young children
- Her two sonshave been placed in therapeutic foster care
A 62-year-old mother was arrested Thursday, August 11, on a charge of aggravated slay of her newborn baby committed by her six-year-old son.
The 13-day-old baby girl was heavily beaten by her brother when their mother, Kathleen Marie Steele, left them alone in a mini-van for about 38 minutes when she went to get her cellphone fixed in a repair shop at St. Petersburg. A three-year-old child of Steele was also in the car.
The incident happened after Steele brought her children to a pediatrician over concerns that the baby girl wasn’t eating. The doctor, however, reportedly found nothing wrong with her.
Reports from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office state that the baby, who was also named Kathleen, began crying after their mother left, and the six year-old started beating the baby to stop her crying.
The incident, according to Gulatieri, is a picture of a single mother who seemed overwhelmed and ill-equipped to care for her three young children in the months leading up to the baby’s death.
The 6-year-old told investigators he just tried to calm his sister. Re-enactment of the incident, however, revealed that the boy, who later used a doll, repeatedly slammed the infant’s head into the minivan’s ceiling, dropped her on the floor, tossed her over and punched her.
Investigators said the baby was likely dead when the mother returned to the car. Her elder son tried to call her attention, saying something’s wrong with the baby, but authorities suspect that she ignored the boy and proceeded to a rental care company before heading home. It was only thereafter that she noticed the baby’s sustained wounds.
Gulatieri called the 6-year-old boy bright and mature for his age, but he has aggression issues, he added.
“By numerous witness accounts, Kathleen Steele was an inattentive parent and (the boys) were largely unsupervised and had very serious behavior issues,” the sheriff had disclosed.
Police authorities said that the mistake in the incident lies with the adult, Steele; not with the boy.
The two sons of Steele have been placed in therapeutic foster care.
Steele, in her first court appearance on Friday, said that she understands the charges. Her attorney, Robert Love, said he wouldn’t appeal on the state’s order for Steele to have no contact with her children, as per a law.
It was learned that after Steele’s husband died of cancer in 2011, she paid huge sums to be artificially inseminated with her husband’s frozen sperm to conceive her second child, a 3-year-old son, and then the newborn daughter.
Her friends and family opposed Kathleen’s desire to have more children as she struggles to raise them alone. Steele, who used to live a wealthy life, filed bankruptcy last year.
On August 2, an anonymous caller contacted the state child’s protective hotline to report the two boys of Kathleen who were ‘running amuck and were unsupervised’, police authorities recalled.
The baby girl, according to Gulatieri was also earlier diagnosed with a minor bleeding in the brain which the baby reportedly got when Steele, holding the baby in the car carrier, tripped going down the stairs when she escapes from a fire. The baby, she said, tumbled out; striking her head.
After a thorough investigation on said incident it was found out that it really happened, but was ruled out to be an accident.
Superintendent Michael Grego, Ed.D., in a USA Today story, sums up the sentiment of many: “This is a heartbreaking situation. The death of a child, of an infant, is so hard to process. I am deeply saddened by this. In the school system our role as educators is to support our students as best we can, even when faced with the unthinkable.”