'Massive' cocaine dose killed baby mother arrested

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

Baltimore police today arrested Tammy Patterson, 26, and charged her with the first-degree murder of her 11-month-old daughter, who died last November after swallowing what police called a "massive" amount of cocaine.

Police also obtained a warrant for the woman's live-in boyfriend, Thomas William Sawyer, 44, charging him with first-degree murder.

Patterson was arrested at her Lafayette Court apartment, in the 100 block of N. Colvin St., at 1:05 a.m. today. She was taken to police headquarters for questioning, then to the Women's Detention Center at the Central District police station, where she was charged and held pending a bail review hearing.

City police were continuing their investigation into the death of 11-month-old Tikia Shannon Smallwood-Patterson, who lived with her mother and three other children in the East Baltimore high-rise.

Tikia died Nov. 12, but the autopsy report was not completed until yesterday. It found that the infant died from ingesting cocaine.

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

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 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 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."

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 today would not say whether they believe the baby was deliberately given cocaine or somehow accidentally came into contact with the drug.

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

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