A 13-month-old baby is boy is dead after being left inside a locked car overnight Friday and into the afternoon hours on Saturday in north Alabama.
The boy’s mother, 36-year-old Elizabeth Anne Case, is charged with murder, according to Limestone County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Stephen Young. Case is being held without bond.
Deputies responded to the intersection of Highway 251 and Highway 31 Saturday afternoon where Athens Police and Athens Fire were on scene with a vehicle containing the child, his mother and grandmother.
Investigators determined, Young said, that the boy had been left inside a vehicle overnight Friday and well into Saturday on East Limestone Road, and that the mother and grandmother were attempting to transport the child to the hospital. The baby was transported to Athens-Limestone Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation showed that Case had left her residence on East Limestone Road between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. with her child buckled into a front-facing car seat and without strapping the seat to the vehicle. Case traveled to both Limestone and Madison counties where she was “dumpster diving” while the child was in the vehicle.
She returned home around 5:40 a.m. on Saturday and left the baby in the vehicle when she went inside the home and went to bed. Case awoke around 1:30 p.m. when the baby’s grandmother came to the residence to see him.
She woke Case up by banging on the door when she couldn’t find her grandchild. They searched for the baby and found him in the car, Young said.
Instead of seeking immediate medical help, Case took the child in the home and placed him in the shower. The grandmother called 911, loaded the child in the car with Case, and met Athens Police at the Recreation Center at Highway 251 and Highway 31. Investigators developed probable cause to arrest Case for murder and transported her to the Limestone County Jail.
Young said Case is a known drug user and was out of jail on bond for a first-degree robbery.
The boy is at least the 49th child to die in the U.S. this year after being left in a hot car, and third in Alabama in 2019.
Just eight days ago, on Sept. 7, Oxford police and firefighters were called to Sunny King Honda at 11:54 a.m. When they arrived on the scene, they learned that 11-month-old twins, a boy and girl, had been inside the vehicle for three hours and 26 minutes.
The male child was pronounced dead at the scene. The female child survived and is fine.
Police Chief Bill Partridge said the father is an employee at the dealership. He realized he had left the twins in the minivan when the mother called him and asked about the twins. The father called 911 and had the twins outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived. The police said the incident was a tragic accident and did not file any criminal charges against the father, but did turn all of their evidence over to the district attorney’s office for possible grand jury review.
Castiel King, 2, died in July when police say he slipped out of his Dothan house and got trapped in the family’s vehicle. Authorities said his parents were under the influence of marijuana at the time. They have been charged with manslaughter.
Experts say vehicles heat up fast, and the inside of a car can reach dangerous temperatures in a matter of minutes. On a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can approach 110 degrees in just 10 minutes. After half an hour, it can be well above 120. But that’s just the temperature of the air in shaded areas of the car.
According to KidsAndCars.org, Alabama ranks 13th in the nation in the number of child hot car deaths with at least 25 fatalities since 1995. Last year was the worst year in history for child hot car deaths with a total of 54 children that died nationwide, according to the group.