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Clearwater woman charged with child neglect in death of boyfriend's 7-year-old son

Police said the boy was left alone in a bathtub with cold water for several hours overnight before the woman called 911.
Credit: Clearwater Police Department

Police and the Department of Children and Families have launched an investigation after the death of a 7-year-old boy in Clearwater.

Shantay Belcher, 33, was arrested Sunday and charged with child neglect in the death of her boyfriend's son.

Police said Belcher called 911 around 8:45 a.m. Sunday from an apartment on South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to report that her boyfriend's son was unresponsive. Crews from Clearwater Fire & Rescue performed resuscitation efforts on the child, but he was taken to Morton Plant Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

In a news release, investigators said the boy had been unresponsive for 12 hours "while Belcher did not seek help."  According to an arrest affidavit, Belcher said the boy fell asleep on the floor of his room Saturday night. Around 10:30 p.m., Belcher's 10-year-old son said the boy was still not waking up and was "breathing funny," the affidavit states.

Officers said Belcher and her 10-year-old son put the boy in the bathtub, and then Belcher "placed a few inches of cold water into the bathtub in hope of (redacted) waking up."

Police said the boy was in the bathtub in cold water for several hours. She checked on him overnight a couple of times, police said, but still found him non-responsive.

When Belcher called the boy's father around 8 a.m. Sunday, detectives said she realized the child was not breathing. Police said Belcher did not call 911 until the father came home shortly thereafter.

According to a news release, "Belcher could not explain to detectives why she did not summon medical help and later said that she should have called 911 sooner."

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