Woman charged after 11-month-old foster child found dead


BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – CYFD is investigating what led to a baby’s death while in the care of a licensed foster parent.

It happened Sunday morning at a Belen home.

The criminal complaint says it was that caretaker’s “lack of care” and negligence that caused the 11-month-old’s death.

Now, 55-year-old Stephanie Crownover is facing several charges.

The Valencia County Sheriff’s Office says deputies arrived at the Belen home Sunday morning to reports of an unresponsive baby.

According to the criminal complaint, the baby and her two siblings, ages two and three, were at Crownover’s home which is a respite foster home, while the children’s foster mom was out of state visiting relatives.

The complaint says Crownover put the baby, who had reportedly been sick with a respiratory illness, to sleep in a car seat and placed the car seat by a space heater to keep warm.

She called police in the morning when the baby was unresponsive. When police arrived, they found the baby dead.

According to the complaint, Crownover’s house was dirty. Officers reported animal feces in several rooms and dirty dishes throughout the home. They also said the smell of the home was almost unbearable.

The baby’s biological mom says she’s devastated and offended that CYFD would allow Crownover to care for kids in that environment. She says she had a visit with them Wednesday and they appeared to be fine.

“Then going to see them Friday, when they were under the care of her, they had soiled diapers, no socks, no shoes, they hadn’t been bathed, they were not in good conditions,” Alicia Patterson said.

She also said she reported those things to the monitor during that supervised visit.

CYFD says it’s taking this investigation seriously. Secretary Monique Jacobson says the home was last visited by the department in early December and they are looking further into that report.

She also says a home in the condition described in the criminal complaint would not be compliant with foster home standards.

The complaint also mentions the two other children being sick. Investigators questioned Crownover as to why she didn’t take them to see a doctor.

Crownover is charged with one count of child abuse resulting in death and two counts of abuse of a child.

The two other children are still in CYFD custody.

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