Two charged in Carmel baby death
The owner of an unlicensed day care and her daughter have been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a five-month-old baby.
Stacey Cox and her daughter, Kirsten Phillips, face charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Class A felony, reckless homicide, a Class C felony, and involuntary manslaughter, a Class D felony.
Cox faces additional charges of deception (Class A misdemeanor), operating a child care home without a license (Class B misdemeanor) and unlicensed practice of nursing (Class B misdemeanor).
Cox and Phillips are being held at the Hamilton County Jail.
According to police, the baby was found in a broken Pack and Play and had been sleeping unsupervised for several hours. Police also say that Cox was operating her day care in violation of a cease and desist order from the state issued in October 2012.
The baby died on January 24, 2013 at Stacey Cox Child Care on West Main Street in Carmel. The state ordered Cox to stop caring for children pending future hearings after the incident.
In court documents, Cox is accused of placing the baby boy in a "Pack and Play" (which is a type of portable crib) with "insufficient supervision," leading to his death. She's also accused of claiming to be a nurse on her business website.
Police say there was no baby monitor or smoke detector in the room where the baby died. Inside the Pack and Play, there was a large blanket, a quilt, a container of baby wipes and clean diapers. The presence of those items runs contrary to warnings on the product not to place soft bedding inside.
Police also noticed that the removable base of the crib was broken so that there was no support for a sleeping infant. The officer reported that the place where the baby had been put down was "concave as a pocket." Warnings on the product say not to use it if it has broken parts. Police also believe that the blankets were used "in an unsafe effort to mitigate that damage."
Court documents indicate Cox changed her story while talking to police officers about what happened, at first telling them she put down the baby for a nap but later saying it was her daughter, Kirsten Phillips, who did it. Cox told police she thought the baby had been placed on his back. She had eight other children to care for that day.
Both Cox and Phillips told police they believed the baby was capable of rolling over. Phillips told officers that she was aware the Pack and Play was broken, and had been for "a while." Cox said she didn't know that it was broken.
Phillips left the home at 12:20 pm that day, according to surveillance video. At around 3:00 pm, Cox told police she checked on the baby and realized he wasn't breathing. But instead of calling 911 first, cell phone records show she called Phillips first and spoke to her for 86 seconds before calling 911.
The attorney general's office says the unlicensed day care was found to be operating illegally on four occasions since October.
The facility had been under investigation since last October for a number of violations, including leaving a bottle of bleach and running space heaters within reach of young children, leaving children unattended in the basement and operating without a license.
You can operate an in-home daycare in Indiana without a license, but only if you're keeping five or fewer unrelated children. Eyewitness News found on Cox's website that she was keeping 11 children and advertising openings for more.
This is a developing story that will be updated. Watch Eyewitness News at 5:00 pm for details.