Day care provider charged in toddler's death last month

Boy died of hyperthermia after being left alone in minivan on `Red Alert' day

July 14, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

GAITHERSBURG -- A licensed day care provider, accused of leaving a toddler inside her van in the blazing sun last month while she worked a second job, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Brenda Ann Epley, 33, of the first block of Maplewood Court in Gaithersburg turned herself in to police Monday night.

District Judge Eric Johnson ordered her held yesterday on $250,000 bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.

Police said Epley left Stacy Stinger, 2 1/2, strapped in his car seat in her Dodge Caravan on June 7, a "Code Red Alert" day when the temperature reached 97 degrees.

The state medical examiner determined Stacy died of hyperthermia, after his core body temperature exceeded 108 degrees.

At the time of Stacy's death, Epley was under investigation by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Division on complaints she left other children unsupervised. A hearing had been scheduled for the fall.

Epley initially told investigators that Stacy, who lived on the next street, was asleep in the back seat as she drove around on errands that afternoon. She said Stacy "was fine" moments before he stopped breathing.

She said she noticed he was not breathing when she got to her apartment, where she began to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called paramedics.

Rescue workers took Stacy to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2: 10 p.m.

Epley changed her story three days later, telling investigators she took Stacy with her on her second job with a home-cleaning firm.

While she cleaned, Stacy slept in the van in the driveway of a Gaithersburg home. The vehicle was parked in direct sunlight with the front windows only partially open, court documents show.

Epley told police she didn't wake Stacy and drove home without opening the rear windows or turning on the air conditioning.

Epley's 6-year-old daughter told investigators that her mother often picked her up at school with Stacy strapped in the back seat "soaked in sweat."

Epley is also charged with child abuse resulting in the death of a child and confining an unattended child. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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