Parents Charged After Space Heater Kills Toddler

They allegedly left him alone for 38 hours while doing meth
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2015 6:05 PM CST

(Newser) – Authorities say a 2-year-old boy in Missouri died after being left alone in a room with a running space heater for 38 hours straight while his parents did meth, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "They heard the child's cries and did nothing," a county prosecutor says. The body of Braydon Barnes was discovered in his crib by his mother, 22-year-old Kathleen Peacock, on Sunday morning, per KTVI. A neighbor who ran to help after hearing Peacock's screams says it felt like it was more than 100 degrees in Braydon's room. Authorities say the boy had been dead for a while before he was found, CNN reports. It was determined that Braydon died of hyperthermia—or overheating—which likely "caused extreme discomfort and difficulty breathing as he died."

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Peacock and 25-year-old Lucas Barnes allegedly admitted to making meth the week before Braydon died in the mobile home where the boy was found, the Post-Dispatch reports. They're facing decades in prison for child abuse and drug manufacturing. In addition to hyperthermia, Braydon was found to be suffering from malnutrition and likely hadn't eaten in days. Their mobile home. which had "feces in places where it shouldn't be," was declared unsafe "for any human being" and condemned, the prosecutor says. Peacock, who is currently pregnant, was already facing charges for allegedly driving drunk with Braydon in the car. According to KTVI, relatives are "devastated," with at least one expressing hope that both Peacock and Barnes receive the harshest punishment available. (Read more child abuse stories.)

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