MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The mother of a 15-month-old girl has been arrested after police said the toddler was found dead inside a home in Mount Vernon.
Dasia Bartee, 26, faces charges in connection with the death of her daughter, Samia Yusef, officials said Saturday.
Mayor Richard Thomas told 1010 WINS that Bartee has been charged with first degree manslaughter. She is set to be arraigned on Monday.
“It’s really deeply disturbing,” he told 1010 WINS’ Darius Radzius. “No child, no infant, no toddler should be subjected to that type of violence.”
Officers responded to a 911 call around 5:30 a.m. Friday from an apartment at 210 Washington Street.
Inside, they found Samia unresponsive and after trying to perform life-saving measures, the toddler was declared dead about 30 minutes later, police said.
Police now say the initial investigation shows Samia had been dead for at least several hours. While the cause of death is still unclear, police said she had “significant trauma to the face and suffered internal bleeding.”
In what they also called “an unusual situation,” investigators said her body was extremely cold. Police said they are investigating the possibility that her body “may have been placed in a freezer at some point in time.”
“It was a gruesome discovery that shocked even our most senior officers on the job,” Commissioner Ronald Fatigate said in a statement. “We are providing counseling services to all officers impacted on this case and are working even harder to strengthen our relationship with the community to help families in need.”
Two other children in the home at the time were not hurt and have been placed in Child Protective Services custody.
Thomas said as a parent, he was particularly disturbed by what happened, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.
“I can tell you that I hugged my own kids a couple more times before I left the house,” he said.
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.
Other neighbors called Bartee a good mom with three daughters. But police confirmed that CPS 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.
The mayor urged anyone who is struggling as a parent to contact 211 to get information about counseling services or to connect with people who can provide assistance.
“Tragic deaths such as Samia’s do not have to happen,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Mount Vernon Police Department at 914-665-2500.