Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Kelley Bouchard email@example.com
WESTBROOK – Two-year-old Madelyn Negron was fine when she went to sleep in her playpen on Sunday evening, according to her adoptive father.
This June 21, 2013 photo shows Madelyn Negron, age 2, daughter of Jessica Joy and Raul Negron. Madelyn was found dead in her playpen in Westbrook on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. Police are investigating.
But on Monday morning, Raul Negron said, he discovered Madelyn's lifeless body in the playpen in her bedroom at 10 Cross St., where she lived with Negron and her mother, Jessica Joy.
"I put her to bed a little after 6 o'clock and read her a bedtime story and she was fine," Negron said Tuesday afternoon. "We've been transitioning her over to a bed, but for some reason she liked the playpen."
Madelyn was lying on her back when Negron put her to bed, he said. When he returned to wake her shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, the little girl with curly red hair was lying face down, Negron said. A little vomit was on her pillow, he said.
"I lost it. I freaked out," Negron, 42, recalled on Tuesday, standing in the kitchen of his first-floor apartment.
Joy, 32, was also in the apartment but declined an interview with a reporter. "She's having a really hard time," Negron said. "We both are."
The Chief Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy on Madelyn's body on Tuesday, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety. A report on the autopsy could take several months to be completed, pending the results of further study, including toxicology and other tests, an office spokeswoman said.
Maine State Police and Westbrook police are investigating the child's death, said Steve McCausland, department spokesman.
State police investigate all deaths of children under age 3, but they don't usually announce the investigation publicly unless someone has been charged with responsibility.
In this case, McCausland said, he issued a news release after several neighbors and reporters called for information. The activity of police and other investigators at the three-family house in the downtown neighborhood attracted spectators for several hours Monday morning.
No charges have been filed in the case, McCausland said. Negron and Joy are cooperating with investigators and there is no record of abuse of the child.
Madelyn's body had no marks, injuries or other immediate indication of trauma or foul play, he said.
"It didn't appear to have anything to do with the child being allowed to sleep in the playpen or because of a defect in the playpen," McCausland said.
It's unknown whether the child had an illness or whether bedding may have played a role in the child's death, McCausland said.
"We're looking to the medical examiner for a cause," he said.
Negron said he and Joy are careful and concerned parents. A sign on an exterior door warns visitors that no smoking is allowed inside. Another sign on the refrigerator says, "Be Kind, Be Loving, Be Forgiving."
Negron and Joy are longtime Westbrook residents who moved into their apartment on Cross Street two months ago, he said.
Negron said he and Joy are roommates who have known each other for 18 years. They were close early in their relationship and have a 16-year-old daughter together, but are now just friends, he said. Joy now has a boyfriend, who is not Madelyn's biological father, Negron said.
Negron said he adopted Madelyn because he didn't know his own father and wanted to spare her that experience. Madelyn was the only one of Joy's six children who lived with them; four children live with one of Joy's aunts; one child lives with the biological father, Negron said.
Negron said he has taken some time off from his job at Sportsman's True Value hardware store in Westbrook to make funeral arrangements and look after Joy, who doesn't work outside the home. Coming up with money for a funeral is going to be tough, he said.
"Financially, it's going to be hard," Negron said. "Living on a fixed budget, I don't know what we're going to do."
More difficult is waiting to hear from investigators, Negron said, sounding bewildered. It could be weeks, he said, before they share the autopsy results.
"It's just so weird," Negron said.
Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: