BY David Boroff: A 62-year-old Florida woman who once appeared in a reality show called “I’m Pregnant and 55 Years Old” has been charged with aggravated manslaughter after her 6-year-old son beat his newborn sister to death while the children and their 3-year-old brother were left alone.
Kathleen Bridget Steele, who was just 13 days old, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at St. Petersburg General Hospital, but investigators believe she died inside the minivan where mom Kathleen Steele had left the children for 38 minutes while she visited a cellphone store in St. Petersburg.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference on Thursday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Steele’s two youngest children were born through artificial insemination, using her husband’s frozen sperm, deputies said. Her husband died of cancer in 2011 at age 66, and Steele had been raising the children alone.
The Florida mother had taken the baby to a pediatrician Monday morning because she wasn’t eating properly, according to the newspaper. The doctor found nothing wrong and later said there were no signs of bruising or trauma.
Steele went into the cellphone store at approximately 1:50 p.m. on Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The 6-year-old boy said the baby started fussing and he tried to calm her. Deputies said the boy later used a doll to show how he repeatedly slammed the newborn’s head into the minivan’s ceiling and how he beat her.
When Steele returned to the van, the boy tried to tell her something was wrong with the baby, but she disregarded him and made another stop before going home. She did not notice the baby’s injuries until then.
“The baby was beaten and traumatized,” the sheriff said. “There was gross swelling in her face. Her skull was cracked in numerous places.”
Steele didn’t even call 911, authorities said. Instead, she called a neighbor who is a nurse, who recognized the baby was dead. The nurse performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
When investigators interviewed Steele Monday night, she never asked about the baby and acted strangely. Steele said, “I guess I have to plan a funeral,” according to the sheriff.
The 6-year-old boy will not face criminal charges. “The mistake is with the adult Kathleen Steele, not a 6-year-old boy,” Gualtieri said.
Steele was already being probed by child protection investigators regarding a minor brain bleed that the baby suffered after a fire. She was scheduled to be evaluated by investigators on Aug. 1, but she canceled and rescheduled. Her sons have been placed in foster care, according to the paper, and she is being held on $100,000 bond.
Steele and her husband appeared on an episode of the reality TV show titled “I’m Pregnant and 55 Years Old” in 2009. The show documented the birth of their now 6-year-old son.