Police seek source of deadly cocaine found in baby's body

February 07, 1991|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff

City police today continued to investigate the death of an 11-month-old East Baltimore girl four months ago, after an autopsy found that the infant died from ingesting cocaine.

A city police homicide detective familiar with the case said no one has been arrested in the death of Tikia Shannon Smallwood-Patterson, who lived with her mother and three other children in the Lafayette Courts high-rise apartments in the 100 block of Colvin St.

Tikia died Nov. 12 but the autopsy report was not completed until yesterday.

"The case is still open and is being actively investigated," said Detective Frank Barlow.

The child's death has been ruled a homicide.

The baby died in the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital after being taken there from her home by a city fire department ambulance crew, police said.

The baby's mother, Tammy Patterson, 26, told police she gave her daughter a bottle about 10 a.m. that day and put her to sleep on a sofa bed.

Three hours later, the mother told police, she noticed the child was not breathing and there was a small amount of blood inside the baby's mouth.

The ambulance crew was called and attempted to resuscitate the child, but with no success.

An hour later at the hospital, the baby was pronounced dead by a hospital staff physician.

Police said that since the child's death originally was ruled questionable, an autopsy was performed.

When no signs of child abuse were found, some of the infant's body tissue was examined by a toxicologist for possible traces of drugs. The tests took several weeks to complete.

Yesterday, the medical examiner said Tikia experienced abnormal heart rhythms and died of cocaine intoxication.

The amount of cocaine in the child's body was not mentioned in the report, police said.

However, a police department spokesman said the little girl ingested "a massive amount of cocaine."

Police said the child's mother would be questioned again about her daughter's death.

The mother has steadfastly denied having cocaine in her apartment, police said. But on the day her daughter died, she said, there were several people in the apartment.

Investigators today were attempting to find the people who were in the apartment the day the child died.

Police still don't know if the baby was deliberately given cocaine or if she somehow accidentally came into contact with the drug.

City police said the death of Tikia is believed to be the first involving an infant ingesting a prohibited drug.

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