A day care center in Maplewood, Missouri, is under investigation after police responded to a 911 call for an infant in cardiac arrest. But when they arrived, authorities not only found the baby already dead but also several young children barricaded in playpens. According to police reports, the toddlers were "trapped" by plastic shelving placed on top of the playpens so that they couldn't "escape," and the woman who owned the day care center had alcohol on her breath at the time of the investigation.
But now the operator is speaking out against the police report that condemned her. "I love my babies," she said.
Police were called November 16 to the unlicensed day care center that operated out of a house in Maplewood after a “hysterical” day care operator made an emergency call to report that one of the infants in her care was in cardiac arrest, according to a report made by KMOV 4.
When police arrived, the 39-year-old day care worker said that the 3-month-old girl had rolled over several times throughout the day. She also claimed that during the baby's last attempt, she landed on her face and stopped breathing. Emergency responders described the girl as being “cool to the touch” and said her lips were blue when they examined her. She was then taken to the hospital, where doctors quickly pronounced her dead.
The story gets worse. Police found other children who were hidden and "trapped" in the day care.
Police found other children who were hidden and "trapped" in the day care.
There were little ones waiting in the living room when they arrived, and on the second floor there was a toddler boy in a playpen concealed in a closet, underneath hanging clothes. Despite this being disturbing, things only got worse when the woman led police to the infant who had stopped breathing. They also found a girl in a playpen with a blanket on top of it and then a heavy plastic shelving unit placed on top of that to keep the girl from "escaping."
Police say that the woman revealed there was a third child in a similar contraption in the basement, after the child made a noise from downstairs. Another boy was discovered alone and in the dark.
In the report made by authorities at the time, they said they could smell alcohol on the operator's breath and found a box of wine in the home.
Investigators said that the woman has yet to be charged with anything, though the presence of alcohol in her home and the smell of alcohol on her breath did prompt them to take a blood sample to determine if she was intoxicated.
In an interview with the St. Louis Dispatch on Monday, the woman shot down any claims that she was drinking on the day of the incident. She explained that police had mischaracterized the state of her home on the day of their visit. The woman, who has still not been identified publicly, claimed that police told parents that their kids were being put in "cages" but argues that shelving was used a way to keep kids from disturbing other napping children. She said that if a child were to call her over, she would remove the shelving and release that child.
She also said that she is a practicing Mormon and rarely drinks but did imbibe the night before the incident. She does not know the results of the blood test and has yet to hire a lawyer.
“I love my babies. I love my babies. I love my babies so much,” she told reporters. A neighbor who also spoke with the press described the woman as "sweet" and "loving," and said she would often hear the children playing in the yard.
“I can tell you this, the kids got good care,” said the neighbor, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The story has come to light amidst several other strange and disturbing incidences at day care centers recently. In October, a day care center in St. Louis was shut down and operators were arrested after secret footage taken by one of the children in its care revealed that the kids were being pitted against each other in a "fight club" and forced to attack each other by their teachers.
Parents who want to make sure that they're sending their children to accredited child care facility should check their state's Department of Health and Senior Services website or any of the three major accreditation agencies in the US: the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC) and the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA).
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.