A North Carolina woman was arrested on Christmas Eve and charged with child abuse after her husband came home and found the couple’s 6-month-old son dead on a couch in the living room.
What caused the baby’s Dec. 24 death is still a mystery, and the medical examiner was expected to conduct an autopsy on Dec. 28. The body had no outward signs of trauma or other indications of how the boy died, authorities told The Charlotte Observer, but the house was “filthy from human and animal waste and garbage,” investigators from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.
Jerry Allen said he returned from work at 11:45 p.m. and found his son naked and alone on the couch, while his wife — 30-year-old Stephanie Amber Tillman — was in the couple’s bedroom with their 3- and 4-year-old children, who were not clothed but were otherwise unharmed, police said.
Tillman was taken to a local hospital and treated for “what appeared to be extreme intoxication from prescribed medication,” the sheriff’s office told The Charlotte Observer. She was also treated for injuries she’d received days earlier during an assault. Police didn’t say who assaulted her or describe the extent of her injuries, but a mugshot released by the sheriff’s office shows extensive bruises on her face and a bloody lip.
The two other children were taken by the state’s Department of Social Services, which then placed them with other family members who weren’t named in reports.
Tillman was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect, but investigators told The Charlotte Observer she could face additional charges pending the result of the Dec. 28 autopsy.
She was arraigned and sent to Lincoln County Jail on $100,000 bail, but Gaston Gazetted reported that a judge had reduced her bail to $10,000.
At her first appearance in court since she was arraigned, Tillman asked for a court-appointed attorney. The judge said she reduced the bail amount because the charges against Stephanie are misdemeanors, and she does not have a prior criminal record, the Gaston Gazette reported.