A Florida mother was arrested and charged with manslaughter after her 6-year-old child beat her newborn baby daughter to death. Kathleen Marie Steele, 62, left her 12-day-old baby in the van with her other sons, ages 6 and 3, while she went to the cell phone store. What happened in the van has shocked the neighborhood.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that the baby started crying when she was left alone with her brothers. That’s when the 6-year-old picked her up and began slamming her into things to get her to be quiet.
“The best way I can describe it to you is he pummeled her,” Gualtieri told reporters. “He was tossing that baby around like a rag doll.”
Gualtieri said he’d “never seen anything like this.”
“One of the worst things I’ve ever seen, with especially a 13-day-old, and her appearance was just one of that had been pummeled,” he added. “The baby was simply beaten, traumatized, gross swelling about her face. The skull was cracked in numerous places.”
Gualtieri said the 6-year-old had behavior issues. The boy reportedly told Steele the baby was in distress when she returned to the van.
Instead of seeking medical attention, Steele drove to a car rental business and tried to renew the contract for the van she was renting.
The boy reminded Steele again that the baby was not well. Steele then called a neighbor, who is a nurse. They met at a motel, and the nurse checked the infant, who appeared to be dead. She then called 911.
When paramedics arrived, Steele did not appear to be concerned for the child’s health. She was putting groceries away in the kitchen while paramedics tried to revive her daughter.
“She was very aloof about it,” said Gualtieri.
An autopsy showed the infant had severe head trauma and multiple skull fractures. The 6-year-old boy described what he did to his baby sister to detectives.
We had him show us with a doll, and it was very violent,” Gualtieri said. “He was slamming that doll, and it’s terrible.”
Steele has been charged with aggravated manslaughter. The 6-year-old boy will not be criminally charged. He and his younger brother are both currently in custody of child services.