ST. CHARLES • The mother of a 2-year-old boy who died after being left near a space heater while his parents allegedly used methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to neglect and manufacturing a controlled substance.
Kathleen Marie Peacock, 23, of St. Charles, pleaded guilty on Friday to two felonies: child abuse/neglect and manufacturing methamphetamine.
Her son, Braydon Barnes, died of hyperthermia, or overheating, in December 2015. She and the boy’s father are accused of leaving the boy in his crib in a back room of the family’s mobile home in the 3700 block of Baden Street for 38 hours near a space heater that did not have a thermostat to shut it off when it got too hot.
The couple were using meth at the time, authorities allege.
A trial for the boy’s father, Lucas Russell Barnes, 26, of St. Charles, is set for April 18. He is facing similar charges.
Peacock is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19 before St. Charles County Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham.
ST. CHARLES • The parents of a 2-year-old boy found dead Sunday had left him alone in a room with a space heater for a day and a half without checking on him while they used methamphetamine, authorities said Tuesday.
An autopsy showed the boy, Braydon Barnes, died of hyperthermia, or overheating, in his crib, according to authorities.
Lucas Russell Barnes, 25, and Kathleen Peacock, 22, were charged with felony child abuse and manufacture of methamphetamine in a residence with a child present, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar announced Tuesday.
Barnes and Peacock left the boy in a back room at their mobile home in the 3700 block of Baden Street for more than 38 hours, authorities said.
During that time a space heater was running in the room. The space heater had no thermostat to turn it off automatically when it got too hot, authorities said.
The pair used meth during that time, Lohmar said. A court record said one of them checked on the child about 11 a.m. Sunday and he was unresponsive. Paramedics determined that the boy had been dead for some time, the court record said.
Lohmar said investigators believe that the parents were home the entire time the child was left unattended. Moreover, he said, “they heard the child’s cries and did nothing to respond.”
According to a court record, Peacock said she heard Braydon make noise from his room and knew she should check on him but did not.
“It’s a crime of neglect,” Lohmar said. “We believe that due to their intoxication with controlled substances, they didn’t have the typical faculties required to properly care for the child.”
A court record said the autopsy also revealed that the boy was “generally malnourished and very thin” and hadn’t eaten for at least two days.
Peacock is currently pregnant, Lohmar said.
“What happens with that child remains to be seen at this point,” he said. He said juvenile authorities are responsible for such custody decisions.
Lohmar said the mobile home has since been condemned and declared uninhabitable because of extremely unsanitary conditions, unsafe “not just for a small child but for any human being.”
For example, he said there was trash, “feces in places where it shouldn’t be” and “a lot of dishes.”
Authorities said the couple had manufactured meth in the home the preceding week. Meth-lab materials were found by police in garbage outside the home, a court record said.
Lohmar said Peacock already had been facing a child endangerment charge filed in St. Charles County in August. “She was alleged to be driving drunk with this child in the car,” he said, referring to Braydon.
Lohmar said each defendant, if found guilty, faces a range of punishment from 10 to 30 years in prison on each charge. The couple were being held Tuesday at the St. Charles Police Department, with cash bail set at $100,000 for each.
Lohmar said “sadly it takes cases like this to remind people” that there are agencies that can deal with crisis situations with young children.
One example is St. Louis Crisis Nursery, which provides care around the clock at five sites across the metro area. The organization can be reached 24 hours a day at 636-947-0600 or 314-768-3201.