MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police in Mount Vernon are investigating the death of a 15-month-old girl whose body was found inside a home early Friday morning.
The mayor’s office said the body of the toddler, who friends and neighbors said was named Samia, was discovered at a second-floor apartment at 210 Washington St.
First responders found Samia’s lifeless body in an extremely cold bedroom, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported. They suspected given the cold that the girl was likely placed in a freezer at some point.
It’s still unclear how and when the girl died, but officials said there was trauma to her face, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
Heartbroken friends and neighbors gathered outside the building where the girl, named Samia, was found. Candles and a stuffed teddy bear were set up as part of a memorial outside the building.
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t care what happened,” said family friend Rejennae Everett. “I just want to hug them!”
A neighbor told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare she saw the little girl and her mother on Thursday, and while the teething baby was fussy and crying, things seemed fine.
Police said they received a call at about 5:30 a.m. from the child’s aunt who was one of the five adults inside the apartment at the time. The woman told police the child was not breathing.
“The bottom line is no family should have to go through finding their infant deceased. Today’s a sad day in Mount Vernon, ” Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said.
Police are questioning the toddler’s mother, identified by friends as De’asia Bartee, and three other adults — an aunt and two grandparents — who were in the family’s second-floor apartment.
Mark, a man who lives in the same building, told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria he never would expect something like this to happen.
“I see her taking the kids to school. She always had the baby in the stroller. It is surprising,” he said.
Neighbors called Bartee a good mom with three daughters. But police confirmed that Child Protective Services had been called to the apartment in the past.
“I won’t understand why, if our system is working, why a baby’s dead and there were people helping them to try and monitor them; supposed to be giving them assistance,” said neighbor Theodore Wells.
Two other girls, ages 6 and 9, were reportedly removed from the home. Police confirm that the infant who died had not been ill recently.
The police department reported late Friday that an arrest is imminent in the case.