Published On: Thu, Jan 1st, 2015

Roy Stephens, Ruby Stephens charged with murdering ‘starving’ baby

The parents of a 22-day-old baby found starved to death in Florida have been charged with first-degree murder, police said. The couple is accused of neglecting the suffering infant.

Roy StephensRuby Stephens, 23, and Roy Stephens, 48, of Indiana were visiting relatives in central Florida on Dec. 23 when they called for emergency help after discovering the baby was unresponsive in their car, according to Lakeland Police.

Betsey Kee Stephens was declared dead at the hospital.

They said baby Betsey’s feet were cold, so they covered them with a blanket and then got into the car to go to dinner.

After arriving at the Golden Corral restaurant on U.S. Highway 98, they said they noticed Betsey was unresponsive, so they called 911.

Ruby StephensThe investigation has since revealed that Betsey had been dead for more than three hours before anyone called emergency officials.

Police Tuesday said pictures from the scene are unsettling.

“When I saw the photographs…it shook me to my core because in thirty years, I have never seen anything like that,” said Assistant Police Chief Mike Link.

According to the medical examiner, Betsey weighed little more than four pounds, about half of what she should have weighed.

“She suffered tremendously over the 22 days that she was alive,” Mike Link, assistant chief of Lakeland Police, told a news conference.

Betsey Kee StephensA medical examiner later determined the death was a homicide resulting from “starvation due to neglect,” according to an arrest report.

An autopsy found the infant weighed four pounds and one ounce (1.8 kg) at death, having lost about 2-1/2 pounds (1.13 kg) since her birth. Normal weight for her age was about eight pounds (3.6 kg), the medical examiner’s office noted.

The baby was dehydrated and appeared not to have been fed for six to seven hours prior to her death, according to the report.

The mother initially told police that she had been breast-feeding the baby every few hours. But after police told her about the autopsy’s findings, she acknowledged that the baby likely had not been fed for much of their day-long road trip, with highway traffic making it difficult to exit to feed her.

“It’s very apparent — it would be very apparent to anyone who saw the photographs — that this did not occur overnight or in days,” said Asst. Chief Link. “In my opinion this child suffered from day one of birth, to the time that she passed away.”

The baby’s death has been ruled a homicide, and both have been charged with first-degree murder.

Betsey had two siblings, a 1-year-old brother and a 2-year-old sister, in the car at the time of the incident. The Lakeland Police Department says they are now with the Department of Children and Families.

“They failed miserably to take care of this child. She suffered tremendously over the 22 days she was alive to meet this kind of demise,” Link said.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

Displaying 5 Comments
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  1. Bepmax says:

    Many years ago I cared for a baby that due to pure ignorance, the baby died from malnutrition. Family having limited funds, moved(traveled)many states away from where baby was born. Thought that if they watered down the formula so it would “last” longer, it was an ok thing to do. We MUST do extensive education to mothers and families. Changes of insurance and Medicaid coverage over the years have lead to early discharge and babies may not even be in hospital more than one day. Not sure if this case is due to ignorance sine they had other young children. If she was “truely” breast feeding, or bottle feeding but not cleaning bottle well, the baby my easily not obtained enough food. EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCTION!!! But I still find this horrifying because they were hungry and stopped for food… doesn’t baby need some too? HMMMMMMM…………..

  2. Dawn says:

    I can’t help but wonder that if these parents had known about the Baby Safe Haven law, would they have turned this little one in, instead of starving her to death?
    This is a chance to make a life or death difference for the youngest, most vulnerable of all, a newborn baby. Maybe the next baby will be saved because someone knows about this option.

    The law offers a safe, legal, option for a desperate parent in crisis. The Indiana law says a parent can hand an unharmed baby, 30 days old or younger, to staff at a hospital, fire or police department. No questions need to be answered and they may remain anonymous. If you or someone you know is pregnant or have a baby they don’t feel they can care for, call the national 24-hour crisis hotline 888-510-BABY (2229) for confidential help.

    Talk about the law. Tell someone about it. You might save a life.

    For more information: contact the National Safe Haven Alliance, http://safehavenalliance.org/

    Dawn Geras,
    National Safe Haven Alliance, VP Media Relations
    Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, Illinois, President

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