Chicago police have arrested the mother of a 7-month-old baby girl after the child was found dead in a car seat inside a West Side apartment early Wednesday evening.
Erica Hampton, 25, faces two charges of misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and one felony count of child endangerment resulting in death, DNAinfo Chicago reports.
Seven-month-old Lamya Hampton was found wrapped in a snowsuit and blanket and left in a car seat on top of a bunk bed inside the home in the 3700 block of West 13th Street. ABC Chicago reports fire crews found the infant unresponsive; she was pronounced dead at an area hospital a short time later.
Fire crews responded to the home just after 3:30 p.m. when a neighbor alerted officials that three young siblings -- the baby and girls aged 2 and 6 -- were left unattended in their home. The neighbor said after the eldest sibling came to her door asking for food because there was none at home, she decided to check on the children, according to NBC Chicago.
The Tribune reports the baby's mother was stopped in a Jeep Cherokee about two blocks away from the home about 30 minutes later. The mother was taken into custody shortly after.
"The arrestee left the victims unattended," according to the police report. "Said actions caused the death of (Lamya Hampton) and endangered the lives and well-being" of her sisters.
The two sisters were taken to an area hospital but were not injured. They will remain in protective custody of the Department of Child and Family Services.
Initial reports from the fire department indicated the baby had frozen to death, but were later shown to be incorrect. WGN reports (embedded above) the heat was on in the home and that the baby girl was fully dressed and reportedly had a temperature of 100 degrees.
Neighbor Tyisha Kinsey, who lives across the street from the North Lawndale apartment, expressed sadness and confusion to the Sun-Times as she watched officials bring the lifeless child from the apartment.
"She's a good person," Kinsey said of the baby's mother, noting the child's father was also always around. "I really can't understand how this happened. That's why it's so sad. God. She took care of those kids. I never seen her neglect them or anything."
Kinsey said both her apartment and that of the baby's family is managed by the same company and there were no reported issues with heat. "If her lights are on, then her heat is on. Her heat is electric," Kinsey told the Sun-Times.
The medical examiner said the baby's cause of death is still pending after Thursday's autopsy.