Parents charged in baby’s death

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Suffolk Police have filed child abuse charges against the parents of an 11-month-old girl who was found dead in her home Monday afternoon.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue responded to the 600 block of Third Avenue at 3:26 p.m. Monday after receiving a report of an unresponsive child. When they arrived, they found the girl to be unresponsive and cold to the touch, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to city spokeswoman Debbie George.

Police were called to the scene, and investigators executed a search warrant at the residence. Detectives interviewed the baby’s parents at police headquarters, and police learned from them that the child had last been checked at 7 a.m., about eight hours earlier, according to a press release from the city of Suffolk.

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Two other children, ages 3 and 4, were removed from the residence by Child Protective Services.

George said in the city’s statement that the parents were both arrested based on the statements they gave to police and on unsanitary living conditions discovered in the home.

Linwood Jones Jr., 24, and Shawntay D. Jones, 25, were both charged with three counts of felony abuse and neglect of children. They are being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail without bond.

George said other charges could be announced, depending on the results of a medical examiner’s investigation into the cause of death.

The medical examiner completed an autopsy on Tuesday, George said, but did not rule on a cause of death, pending the results of additional tests. She would not speculate on how long it would take to get those test results back.

“It appears obvious that the children were neglected,” she said. “Whether that neglect led to this death, we don’t know at this point.”

George said police described finding “trash and debris, as well as vomit,” in the house. She said there was no running water and “very little heat” available. Because of the lack of running water, she added, feces was found in the bathroom.

On Tuesday afternoon, a reporter observed workers from Bestway Rent-to-Own removing a freezer and a large flat-screen television from the home.

The men said their company had been called that day and told to pick up the items.

The front yard of the home was littered with trash, including candy wrappers, a fast food wrapper and a soiled, discarded diaper.

The area along Third Avenue where the incident occurred is lined with small houses and small yards. Some are neatly kept, but others are in disrepair. Some of the homes are so close to each other that a person can barely fit between them.

Nonetheless, neighbors who were home Tuesday afternoon were unwilling to talk with a reporter about the Jones family.

One next-door neighbor claimed not to know the family at all, and others who lived nearby denied being acquainted with them even before they were asked.

Detective David Burke is the lead investigator.

Staff Writer Tracy Agnew contributed to this story.