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Deputies: Alyssia Skinner arrested after toddler found abused, suffering from 'chronic hypothermia' by being kept constantly in air-conditioned room

1:05 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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Hernando, Florida -- A Citrus County woman is facing several child abuse charges for severely neglecting a toddler.

Deputies went to 22-year-old Alyssia Skinner's mobile home on Monday to do a welfare check on a 17-month old girl said to be living there. At first, deputies say Skinner claimed the child wasn't hers and locked the door to keep deputies out.

Investigators saw Skinner go into a back room of the mobile home and remove the child, and then attempting to clean and feed her before opening the front door.

The child was cold to the touch and appeared malnourished. Emergency Medical Services were called to the home and the toddler was taken to the hospital.

While being treated, the extent of the girl's injuries became clear: she was suffering from "chronic" hypothermia, indicating she had been exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time.  Her legs couldn't be straightened from a curled position, which had occurred as a way for the child to preserve her body heat. 

The toddler was severely malnourished and suffered from "refeeding syndrome," which is what happens when a person has been starved for long periods of time and then the body reacts negatively when reintroduced to food.

An MRI showed brain injuries consistent with head trauma often caused in "shaken baby" cases.

Deputies describe the room the child was kept in to be extremely cold, cluttered and dirty. There was only a small area of bare carpet -- damp and urine-soaked -- where the baby was believed to be laying while numerous soiled diapers were scattered around the floor.  

A man who regularly visited Skinner's home told investigators that Skinner only once took the child out of the room, and that the toddler seemed lethargic and would not laugh or play. He also claimed Skinner would only go into the child's room when the toddler cried, and that once the crying stopped, she would come out, leaving the child behind.

Skinner had previously told deputies she was the sole caregiver of the infant.

Deputies arrested Skinner and charged her with child neglect, child neglect causing great bodily harm, aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm and aggravated child abuse/torture/punish/cage child.

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