In Florida, a 23-year-old mother was arrested for allegedly starving and beating her five-month-old son to death. Tania Nicole McGowan was taken into custody last week and charged with one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect in connection with the death of the infant.
An arrest report indicates that Jacksonville Fire and Rescue (JFRD) personnel at approximately 6:17 p.m. on Dec. 11 responded to a 911 call regarding an unresponsive infant on the 14000 block of Duval Road. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders located the infant and transported him to University of Florida Health. The patient was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) deputy was dispatched to the hospital at approximately 8:45 p.m., where hospital staff informed the deputies that the deceased child’s mother – later identified as McGowan – had left the building shortly after her son had been pronounced dead, according to the document.
In spite of the fact that the results of the autopsy were still pending at the time of the arrest report, the medical staff reported to a detective that the child was “emaciated,” weighing only seven pounds at the time of his death. A detective on the scene described the boy as being severely malnourished to the point that his stomach was caved in and his rib cage protruded.
“The victim’s face was thin and his cheeks were sunken in,” wrote the detective.
As a result of the medical examination, the infant was determined to be “severly dehydrated and malnourished,” as there was no sign of food in the stomach or intestines of the infant.
Investigators located McGowan at her home, where she allegedly provided written consent to process the scene. Upon entering the home, detectives found it “cluttered with little to no furniture.” There was only one container of baby formula and two bottles, according to the report.
McGowan allegedly stated in an interview with investigators that she put her son to bed at approximately 8 p.m. the night before. After waking up at 11 a.m., she did not check on the infant for three hours, assuming he was still asleep. McGowan allegedly fell asleep again, awaking at about 6 p.m. to prepare a bottle of formula.
“[S]he made an 8 ounce bottle and went to wake the victim, but he was unresponsive,” according to the police report. “McGowan stated that the victim’s eyes and mouth were open, he was pale and cold to the touch.”
In a conversation with detectives, McGowan’s apartment complex manager expressed concern for the victim’s wellbeing. The manager told investigators McGowan was in the complex common area on Dec. 6 when people heard “slapping” sounds. As they looked into the common area, they found Tania McGowan holding an infant and another small child.
According to surveillance footage provided to investigators, the following occurred:
“Tania McGowan can be seen lying the victim on a couch and then walks away. The victim is covered in a baby blanket,” according to the arrest report. “McGowan returns to the victim, picks him up and then forcefully slams him back onto the couch. She grabs the victim by the head and face and forcefully twists the victim’s head to the side. She then covers the victim’s head with the blanket and begins to forcefully strike the victim on the back repeatedly with an open hand.”
It is alleged that McGowan then “grabs the victim by the face and twists his head” before again covering him with the blanket and striking him “forcefully” on the back.” Lastly, she is shown taking “a large throw pillow from the couch” to place over the infant’s head before leaving the room.
McGowan allegedly told investigators she had not taken her son to a doctor since he was born in July. Further, she commented that the child was “slimming down,” but allegedly believed “he only looked that way because he was growing in length.”
Currently, she is being held on a $1.5 million bond and is scheduled to appear at the Duval County Courthouse on January 5.