Katie Urbaszewski / Houma Courier
A Thibodaux mother charged with starving her infant to death did not seek adequate help to provide for her daughter's nourishment, authorities said.
Latisha Thomas, 34, 1323 Lasseigne Road, was arrested Thursday in connection with the February death of 2-month-old Angel Thomas, police said. The mother called paramedics that day to say Angel wasn't breathing, but the child was dead when they arrived.
Latisha's father, Clyde Thomas, said in an interview Friday that Latisha had told him her baby had not been suckling her milk anymore. Clyde Thomas said his daughter took Angel to the hospital soon before the baby died Feb. 9.
But Lafourche Sheriff Craig Webre said there is no record of a hospital trip in recent weeks.
“I don't see how a medical professional would have looked at a child that was that close to death and release it to go home,” Webre said.
Investigators found records of one doctor visit and several missed appointments since Angel was born in December, Webre said.
Angel was “definitely malnourished for some period of time” before her death, said Brennan Matherne, Sheriff's Office spokesman.
Latisha Thomas was charged with second-degree murder after an autopsy and investigation concluded she was responsible for her baby's death. She remains in the Lafourche Parish jail on a $500,000 bond.
Thomas was not charged with negligent homicide because “the events that flowed from her actions were foreseeable,” Webre said. Though she may not have intended to kill her baby, she still knew her daughter would die if she didn't eat, the sheriff added.
Also, law enforcement often charges alleged criminals with the highest charge that the evidence fits, and district attorneys can then decide whether to reduce the charges, Webre said.
Clyde Thomas, a church pastor, presided over Angel's funeral. He said the baby had health problems even in the womb.
The only cause of death listed on the autopsy report is severe malnutrition.
Latisha Thomas has never been convicted of a crime in Lafourche, according to parish court records.
Her first cousin, Felicia Thomas, said she thought something was wrong with Angel and had encouraged Latisha to bring her to the hospital.
Latisha is not married to the baby's father, Golden Richardson, family members said. His mother lives in the same public-housing complex as Latisha, and she said she was shocked by the death.
“Come to me if you don't know nothing; I'm the grandma,” Penny Richardson said she told Latisha Thomas. Angel was her only grandchild, she said.
Richardson said she she last saw the child in January. Latisha was the only person who regularly looked after her three children, Richardson said.
There were no signs that her other two children were starved, Webre said. State Department of Children and Family Services workers took the children, who are both old enough to attend school, into custody after the arrest.
Felicia Thomas said Latisha would not talk about the death after it happened.
“I guess she didn't want to tell us nothing,” Felicia said. “I guess she kept it all in her heart.”
After Children and Family Services takes custody of children, they are often immediately put into foster care, said spokesman Trey Williams. He declined to comment specifically about Thomas' children.
If relatives are not given immediate custody, it's often to review the potential home environment and the relatives' resources, Williams said. A judge must agree with the custody situation.