FORT WORTH, TEXAS - It was inside a walk-in closet in a west Fort Worth home that police say they found an infant boy, dead, lying in a portable car seat late Monday night.
By Tuesday, they'd started piecing together how little John Norris had died.
"It appears the bottom belt strap was not properly connected, wasn’t inserted, and the child slid down the seat," says Officer Brad Perez of FWPD. "The infant’s neck was caught between the car carrier chest buckle that was fastened, and the child appears to have suffocated by the means of the buckle and strap mechanism.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner confirmed Norris' death was accidental, caused by car seat belt strangulation.
Officer Perez says while the death itself appears to be a horrible accident, the circumstances around the death are being investigated. Police say the babysitter, who has not been named, left the baby to sleep in a car seat inside the master bedroom closet and discovered him dead two hours later. Police say there were 10 or 11 children inside the babysitter's home when the little boy died.
"I don’t want to pass any judgment on this caretaker. I do know 10-11 children is a lot. I don’t know if this was the only adult supervision inside this location," Perez says.
All of this has gotten the attention of CPS and Child Care Licensing. Both agencies are now investigating the child's death. A spokeswoman tells WFAA the address on the 600 block of Woodpecker Lane was not licensed as a child care operation, but the home does have a history with CPS. Spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales would not divulge what that history is or when it happened, due to privacy laws.
In Weatherford, where the baby lived, neighbors realized something was wrong Tuesday morning when they saw people crying and consoling each other outside the baby's home.
"They're hugging and crying, put their heads down," recalls neighbor Anjeanette Weger.
Weger and friend Charles Gretts said John's mother appeared to be doting, always with her baby. Police say the mother was at work at the time he died.
"I hope the baby’s in heaven, you know?" Weger says through tears.
Police say they have not arrested the babysitter, but are not ruling out the possibility of charges as the investigation goes on.
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