(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) — An 11-month-old girl died this weekend after she was left in a scorching hot car in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her father has been arrested for homicide, authorities said.
Records show the temperature reached 90 degrees in Chattanooga on Saturday, the day the baby girl was left “in an unattended vehicle for an extended period,” the Chattanooga police said.
According to an affidavit of complaint, a woman overheard a man — later identified as the baby’s father, Travis McCullough — yelling “help” from a parking lot. She pulled into the lot and exited her car to offer help, she told police, and the complaint said that McCullough “‘tossed’ the lifeless victim who was completely unclothed into her arms and immediately fled the scene in his vehicle.”
The woman stayed with the baby until help arrived, document said.
Responders found the baby with a temperature of 106 degrees, documents said, and she had insects flying from her eyes, nose and mouth.
The baby was pronounced dead at the scene, the police said, and her cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner’s office.
According to documents, it appeared that the baby girl and McCullough’s two other children, ages 2 and 5, were in the car while McCullough, 30, worked at his father’s restaurant.
Police say the father said that he had sent his son home on previous occasions when he tried to leave the children in the car while he worked.
McCullough’s father told police he had no idea the children were in the car, according to an affidavit of complaint.
Police said the other two children appeared to have been neglected and were in need of medical attention and were taken to a hospital. Child protective services “will take custody of those children once they are medically cleared,” the police said.
An affidavit of complaint against McCullough claims he “knowingly and willfully left the victims inside the vehicle exposing them to extreme heat for hours.” He was arrested and charged with criminal homicide and three counts of aggravated child neglect.
The children’s mother, Jessica Tollett, 24, was also arrested, charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse/neglect after the baby’s death.
According to an affidavit of complaint against Tollett, one of the surviving two children, a 5-year-old boy, had visible bruising on his eyes, an abrasion on his forehead and multiple scars and healing wounds on his body and he was non-verbal. Tollett said the 5-year-old had not seen a doctor since he was 2 although “he has obvious development delays,” the affidavit continued, and both children appeared not to have been bathed recently.
A search at the family home found “atrocious” conditions, according to an affidavit of complaint; one room was covered in feces and urine and there was only one bed and one crib inside the home it said.
McCullough and Tollett were taken to the Hamilton County Jail; they are both being held on bond. McCullough is set to appear in court on July 18 and Tollett is set to appear in court on July 24. It was not immediately clear if either defendant is currently represented by a lawyer.
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