BOGALUSA, La. - A mother was booked on a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly placing her 3-month-old son in a clothes dryer and turning it on.
The infant had third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body and suffered blunt force trauma to the head, the St. Tammany Parish coroner said.
Police Sgt. Darryl Darden said Lakeisha Adams, 18, called police to her home on Monday to report that someone had killed her child. When officers arrived, they found Jailand Adams on a sofa. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Darden said Adams admitted during questioning to putting the infant in the dryer and turning it on, but did not say why.
Adams also has a 1-year-old child who was placed in state custody, police said.
If convicted, Adams faces death by injection or a life sentence. The first-degree murder charge is mandatory under Louisiana law because the victim was under age 12.
BENTONVILLE -- Shirley Chittum died Saturday night, one day after she was rushed to a hospital and her son was arrested because authorities say he neglected her.
The 71-year-old homebound woman was found early Friday on her sofa in a Bentonville apartment, withered to 62 pounds and covered with feces, urine, thousands of maggots and flies.
Police and medical workers cried and vomited while trying to help the woman, and an emergency room doctor called her condition the worst case "of neglect he had ever seen," according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Paul Arthur Chittum, 44, is being held in the Benton County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He is accused of felony neglect of an adult.
An autopsy was performed Monday, and Prosecutor Robin Green said murder charges could be forthcoming depending on results of the autopsy and the Bentonville Police Department's ongoing investigation.
Toxicology results could take months, said Police Chief James Allen. "It's as bad as anything I've seen," he added, referring to photographs taken at the Southeast Second Street apartment.
According to court documents, Paul Chittum called an ambulance after midnight Friday because his mother refused to eat. Her speech was slurred and he was afraid she had a stroke, he later told police.
When paramedics arrived they found the woman on a sofa, covered in blankets. When they began unwrapping her, hundreds of flies were released. They couldn't detach her from the sofa cushions, so they wrapped them up with her for transport.
Wounds on her backside and legs were filled with maggots and were life-threatening, doctors said. Her condition Friday, while in intensive care, was called "grave."
When Paul Chittum first sat down with police on Friday, he claimed he arrived just two weeks before from Missouri to help his mother. By the end of the interview, he admitted moving in one year ago.
"I love my mom, I would never hurt her, I did what my mom wanted me to do," he said at first to an officer, through tears. But as Bentonville Police Officer Joseph Falcon challenged him, Paul Chittum admitted he hadn't changed her adult diaper in weeks, and that he'd seen maggots and flies on the couch and urine and feces seeping down from his mother onto the floor.
His mother told him not to help her, he said. "I am responsible, totally responsible," he said, according to the affidavit. "I am going to speak flat with you, give me a gun so I can shoot myself ... I tried to tell her I would get into trouble over this, but she would not believe me."
His mother suffered from emphysema and glaucoma but took no medication, he told police. That morning, she ate toast and drank two cups of coffee, and had chicken and soup at lunch delivered by the Meals on Wheels program. By dinner time, however, she refused to eat and her speech became slurred, according to the affidavit.
According to the police chief, the Department of Human Services visited the Chittum home in November to check on the woman.
"We'll be talking with folks at DHS," Allen had said Friday, adding he knows no specifics about the visit and no one previously contacted police about the woman's condition.
A message left Friday afternoon for a Division of Aging and Adult Services representative in Bentonville was not returned.
Court documents state that Paul Chittum had siblings, but they may not have visited their mother recently.
Paul Chittum had a valid Bentonville warrant for contempt of court, for which he was initially arrested. He also had a previous conviction for burglary, according to court documents.