Trio starved baby girl to death, cops say. Her twin suffered too
LINDENWOLD — Authorities say two adults and a 17-year-old starved a 2-month-old girl to death in July 2019. The girl's sister survived but with serious injuries.
Police were called to the residence of Joy Wilson, 36, at the La Cascata Apartments in Lindenwald on July 8, 2019 for a report unresponsive infant girl, referred to as Alice by investigators, according to an affidavit in the case. Detectives found her to be underweight and have injuries on the mend, according to the affidavit.
The girl’s twin sister, called Amanda by detectives, survived but had “multiple healing and acute” rib fractures, the affidavit said.
Wilson said that she was the twins' legal guardian, and the twins' parents — Sharode Snell, 22, and a teen referred to as T.W. — lived with her.
Detectives who responded to the apartment noticed that there was no baby food or formula in the house and that Amanda's diaper was dry, according to the affidavit. Snell and the teen told police the twins were given formula and food on a regular basis, it said.
Dr. Maria McColgan from the NJ CARES Institute examined Amanda at Cooper University Hospital and observed she was severely malnourished, and had very little fat under her skin or on her face, the affidavit says. The doctor concluded that her parents were not being truthful about how often the children were being fed, it says. An autopsy found a similar condition in Alice, according to the affidavit.
Alice's liver also had severe steatosis, a condition of excess fat in the liver caused by starvation, according to the affidavit. The medical examiner sent liver samples for forensic analysis to rule out a possible genetic cause.
The NJ CARES Institute is based at Rowan University and provides medical and mental health treatment for children who are suspected of being victims of sexual abuse or neglect.
Snell and the teen eventually admitted to detectives that they sometimes ran out of formula and used water mixed with rice instead, according to the affidavit.
A 10-year-old girl who lived in the apartment said told police they helped with the care of the twins, and told police that the parents insisted on feeding the twins water and rice because the twins wouldn't throw it up after feeding.
McColgan regularly examined Amanda following the July incident and noted she was gaining weight. In a final review of Amanda's health in May 2020 McColgan, said that Amanda's weight issues were not because of a metabolic or medical condition and she did not have any signs of a metabolic bone disorder. McColgan concluded that earlier bone fractures came from abuse, and not a genetic condition.
Wilson, Snell, 22 and the teen, all of Lindenwold, were each charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of second-degree aggravated assault, Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer said in a news release.
Wilson was arrested in Lindenwold on Thursday and is being held at the Camden County Correctional Facility, according to the prosecutor's office.
Snell and the 17-year-old were located and arrested in North Carolina by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force on Nov. 23 and awaiting extradition to New Jersey. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office did not know what led Snell and T.W. to relocate to North Carolina. Amanda was not in their custody.
"The lengthy and meticulous investigation in this matter was of paramount importance to everyone who took part in it from the CCPO detectives, assistant prosecutors, and victim advocates to the Gloucester Township detectives, to the doctors at the New Jersey CARES Institute, to the Camden County Medical Examiner’s Office. Each agency worked tirelessly to bring about some measure of justice for these babies," Mayer said.