A baby found starved to death in Florida has led to the infant’s mother and husband being arrested on charges of first degree murder. The baby, only 22-days-old, was taken to a Lakeland hospital, severely undernourished and dehydrated, where the suffering female infant was pronounced dead. Investigators have accused the parents of neglect and allowing the newborn to die.
Writes Reuters, via Yahoo News on Dec. 30: “Ruby Stephens, 23, and Roy Stephens, 48, of Indiana were visiting relatives in central Florida on Dec. 23 when they called for emergency help after discovering the baby was unresponsive in their car, according to Lakeland Police. Betsey Kee Stephens was declared dead at the hospital.”
Lakeland’s Assistant Police Chief Mike Link said of baby Betsey: “She suffered tremendously over the 22 days that she was alive,” adding that photos of the infant taken by the coroner show the newborn in an “absolutely horrible” condition. “When I saw the photographs…it shook me to my core because in thirty years, I have never seen anything like that,” Link said.
Ruby, the baby’s mother, and Roy, who is not the biological father, were allegedly eating up the buffet inside of a Golden Corral restaurant while Betsey was left in her carseat, inside of a vehicle. At birth, Betsey weighed over six pounds. At death, she weighed just an ounce over four pounds. Her weight should have been closer to eight pounds. Investigators estimate that she had been dead for approximately three hours before EMTs were called.
The medical examiner has ruled the infant’s death a result of “starvation due to neglect.” Police said it appeared that the infant had not been fed for up to seven hours prior to her death. Ruby admitted to officials that she had not fed her baby during the day-long road trip from Indiana to Florida. She also admitted to skipping a Dec. 18 appointment to have Betsey’s weight and health checked.
Investigators said the baby was the result of an extramarital affair. The arrest affidavit says Roy Stephens paid little attention to his wife’s baby. “The obvious infidelity and subsequent pregnancy created a strain on the marriage,” the arrest affidavit read.
The couple have a 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter together, who were both traveling with the family. They appeared healthy, according to police, but have been removed and temporarily taken into protective custody.
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