Florida is reeling after two separate cases in the state allegedly saw children die at the hands of their caregivers, according to authorities.
In St Petersburg, the body of a two-year-old boy was found Friday in an alligator’s mouth a day after his mother was discovered murdered, prompting his father’s arrest.
Meanwhile, about 80 miles east in Hardee county, a woman is demanding that her mother be imprisoned after she reportedly left her daughter in a hot car, killing the girl.
A year earlier, the girl’s brother had drowned, reportedly while her grandmother was supposed to be watching him but took a nap instead, according to local reports.
Police investigating the St Petersburg case reported that two-year-old Taylen Mosley’s corpse was found in a lake in the jaws of an alligator after a search prompted by the discovery of his mother’s body in their apartment earlier in the week.
The search for Taylen Mosley involved dive teams and drones, and eventually culminated in officers spotting an alligator in a lake a few miles from the apartment where his mother, 20-year-old Pashun Jeffery, was found dead.
Officers noticed the alligator “with an object in its mouth” and soon realized that it was Taylen Mosley’s body, the Associated Press reported. They quickly fired shots at the alligator and “were able to retrieve Taylen’s body intact”, St Petersburg police chief Anthony Holloway said at a press conference, the Associated Press reported.
“We are sorry it has had to end this way,” Holloway told reporters on Friday.
Authorities have not said anything that would indicate Taylen was alive while in the alligator’s grasp.
After the discovery of the child’s body, authorities said they intended to charge his father, 21-year-old Thomas Mosley, with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the killings of his son and Pashun, the boy’s mother.
Earlier this week, Jeffery’s body was found at what Holloway described as a “very violent crime scene”. She had been stabbed multiple times and Taylen was missing, the chief said.
The exact details surrounding Taylen Mosley’s death and how he ended up at the lake have yet to be released.
In Hardee county, 65-year-old Tracey Nix has been charged with aggravated manslaughter after being accused of leaving her seven-month-old granddaughter, Uriel Schock, unsupervised in a hot car last November. Uriel’s death happened after her 16-month-old brother Ezra Schock drowned in a pond near her home while Nix allegedly napped.
According to a Hardee county sheriff’s office complaint affidavit reviewed by the local news outlet WFTS, Nix told authorities that she “just forgot” about her granddaughter after she drove back home following a lunch with her friends.
“I was [not] rushing in the house to do anything,” said Nix, according to the documents. “I just forgot.”
Only after one of her grandsons arrived did Nix “all of a sudden’’ remember that her granddaughter had been abandoned in the hot car all afternoon, WFTS reports. According to the outlet, temperatures had reached 90F that day.
“How do you forget a little girl,” Uriel’s father, Drew Schock, asked the outlet.
Uriel’s death has since been ruled a homicide.
A 2009 Washington Post magazine story found the phenomenon of caregivers leaving their children locked in cars started occurring more frequently in the 1990s, which is when authorities began widely recommending that child seats should go in the back of cars because passenger-side front airbags could kill children.
Experts quoted in the Post article said that parents at the center of such cases came from all economic and educational levels – and that they largely forgot their children in their cars because of stress, lack of sleep or changes to their routines rather than callous negligence or intentional malice. That phenomenon gave rise to suggestions that forgetful people leave a shoe in the back seat when children are riding with them, and some cars now also alert drivers to check the backseat after they park.
But Uriel’s family said her death is particularly hard to accept because of how her brother died in December 2021 while also reportedly under Nix’s supervision.
According to court documents reviewed by NBC, Nix had been babysitting her grandson when she fell asleep. As a result, Ezra stepped outside and died after drowning in a nearby pond. She was not charged in the incident.
“Two children now who are no longer here,” said the children’s father. “Somebody has to answer for that.”
Their mother, Kaila Schock, echoed her husband’s words, telling WFTS: “She needs to go to prison. As her daughter, it kills me to say it. As their mother, I demand it.”
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