The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 11, 2014

Investigation into death of two small children

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

— The cause of the deaths of two children in Fayette County was undetermined Tuesday, and investigators said they won’t have more information until the State Medical Examiner’s Office releases a report, possibly today.

“All I know at this point is that we have two dead children,” Fayette County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Sizemore said Tuesday afternoon.

Tests by Oak Hill Fire Department “tentatively ruled out” carbon monoxide poisoning as a cause of death for the 3-month-old boy and his 1-year-old sister Tuesday, and the children’s bodies did not show apparent signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, abuse or neglect, according to officials.

Foul play was not suspected Tuesday afternoon, according toSizemore.

Search warrants were issued Tuesday, and Sizemore said deputies and detectives searched the parents’ mobile home for items that could point to the cause of death and gave substances such as rat poison or food poisoning as examples.

The parents are cooperating with the investigation, he added.

“(Search warrants) are no indicator of foul play or that the parents intentionally killed the kids,” he emphasized.

Sizemore characterized the parents as “distraught” and “obviously upset” and added that they were not suspected of criminal wrongdoing Tuesday afternoon.

He added that they had not yet been ruled out as “persons of interest.”

Although drug abuse is a serious problem at the mobile home park where the family resides, Sizemore said, there was no indication Tuesday that drugs were a factor in the deaths of the two children.

“For two children to die at the same time is very, very unusual,” said Sizemore.

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Sizemore said that the two young victims and their 4-year-old brother lived with their mother and father in Lot # 44 at Mountainair Mobile Home Park in Hilltop.

He declined to identify the family Tuesday.

The mother awoke around 9 a.m. and saw that her 3-month-old baby was unresponsive, according to Sizemore.

She sent her husband next door to the neighbor’s house to contact the Fayette 911 Center.

The mother then discovered that the couple’s 1-year-old daughter was unresponsive, as well, Sizemore reported.

A call requesting help for the girl was placed from the neighbor’s house “moments after” the first call, he added.

When deputies arrived at the home, they tried to revive the children using CPR techniques until Jan-Care and General ambulance crews arrived.

EMT’s transported the children to Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill, where medical staff “made extensive efforts” to revive the children before pronouncing them dead, he said.

According to Sizemore, medical staff commented that the children appeared to have been dead for “a long while” but did not offer an exact time.

The deaths are under investigation by the Fayette Sheriff’s Office and State Medical Examiner’s office, he said.

Child Protective Services was contacted as a matter of protocol, and the victims’ 4-year-old brother was transported to PMC for evaluation.

He was found to be healthy, said Sizemore.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com