Disclaimer: The details included in this article are disturbing and may disturb readers.
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) – A toddler was found dead in appalling conditions in Brevard County, and his mother was subsequently charged.
Melissa Lehman first appeared at the prison on Wednesday.
The judge ruled that she would be held without bail.
According to Melbourne Police documents, officers were called to a residence on July 28, around 5 a.m., after a dead toddler was reported.
Police said four people lived inside the house: Melissa Lehman, her 18-month-old daughter named Charlotte, Melissa’s boyfriend Glen, and Melissa’s friend Mark.
Officers entered the mobile home and found Lehman’s dead daughter on the linoleum floor in the kitchen. The girl had no pulse and was cold to the touch, according to the documents. Cocaine was found near his shared bed.
Officers observed no visible trauma to the girl’s body.
Lehman said she called 911 after Mark woke up to find the toddler unconscious. Documents say Lehman slept with her boyfriend in a separate bed and put her daughter to sleep in a twin bed with her friend, Mark, an adult male unrelated to the child. Police noticed that the mattress was dirty and littered with skin feces and dried blood stains. A pipe and marijuana were seen next to the bed.
“Charlotte was sleeping with a grown man, one of the roommates. In a bed that was no more than 38 inches. And besides, the bed was dirty. There was blood. Old blood, loss of skin. Simply put. horrible, ”said Det Tom Cahalan of the Melbourne Police Department.
An examination of the trailer revealed “dirty and neglected” conditions, police said. Ants and cockroaches were seen crawling along, along with drug paraphernalia including needles, hoses, powder residue and cut straws. Officers also discovered a loaded pistol in Lehman’s handbag, easily accessible to the child.
Lehman, Mark and Glen all said the toddler looked happy and healthy the day before she was found unconscious. Interviews with the three revealed that they were using marijuana and that Mark and Glen had “injected” Suboxone, a drug used to treat their opioid addiction. None of the adults could think of any reason for the girl’s death.
The Brevard County medical examiner examined the child and found no evidence of physical abuse or sexual assault. In October, the girl’s toxicology results returned and the cause of her death was ruled to be cocaine toxicity and positional asphyxia. Other important factors included the girl’s low body weight.
Officers determined that Lehman was responsible for the girl’s death because she failed to provide him with the care and supervision essential to her well-being and subjected her to deplorable and dangerous living conditions.
Lehman faces charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and child neglect.