Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Child protection had investigated Citrus mom accused of killing daughter

Chelsea Maree Huggett, the Citrus County woman accused of beating her 2-year-old daughter to death last week, was investigated twice by child protection investigators in the past year, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

An initial look at both cases did not indicate that DCF could have done anything to prevent Aliyah's death, but the department will conduct a more thorough review, said Carrie Hoeppner, a DCF spokeswoman. The results could be released next week.

"You really have an obligation to the child to review your work and make sure there wasn't something else you could have done," Hoeppner said.

In August 2012, Huggett, 21, and her daughter, Aliyah Marie Branum, were living with her boyfriend. Social workers, concerned about domestic violence between Huggett and the man, launched an investigation.

Huggett, who lives in the town of Hernando, worked with social workers for several months, accepting assistance in a variety of forms. "I understand she was very cooperative," Hoeppner said.

In January, child protection investigators were back due to concerns about Huggett's living stability and a possible mark on the child's back.

Huggett and her daughter were between homes and primarily spent nights with friends. At one point, they were living out of a tent, Hoeppner said.

Child protection officials did not discover any obvious signs of abuse or neglect.

"It appeared the child (was) very well bonded to the mother in January," Hoeppner said

Following this case, Huggett was given help with day-care accommodations, which allowed authorities to keep a closer eye on her, she said.

Two days before her death, Aliyah was taken by ambulance to a hospital with swollen hands, possibly from an allergic reaction, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office. She was released the same day. Hospital staffers did not notice any signs of neglect or abuse during the visit.

"So this gives us some assurance that this (abuse) wasn't ongoing," Hoeppner said.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office authorities say Huggett violently shook Aliyah on April 25 in her home in Hernando.

The next day, Huggett shook her again, covered the toddler's mouth with her hand, then slammed her head into the bedroom wall and head butted her.

Aliyah never woke up.

On Thursday, detectives arrested Huggett and charged her with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

After initially telling investigators her boyfriend had killed Aliyah with bug spray, Huggett admitted killing the girl and expressed remorse.

"The defendant told me she that she did not mean to kill the victim," Detective Kathleen Liotta wrote in the affidavit. "She just could not take her whining."

Eight months pregnant, Huggett is being held without bail in the Citrus County Detention Facility. Child protection officials will meet to decide about placement for the baby when it's born, Hoeppner said.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Comments
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Police: Baby not abandoned; mother surrendered infant

TAMPA — A newborn baby initially thought to be found on the ground near a trash can in north Tampa was not abandoned, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.The child’s mother gave birth to the boy Thursday, and she and someone else too...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Published: 05/25/18

Woman, dog die trying to cross U.S. 19 in Hudson

PORT RICHEY— An unidentified 45-year-old Colorado woman and her dog died early Friday morning when they walked into the path of two vehicles on U.S. 19, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The woman was walking her dog around 5:40 a.m. across U.S...
Published: 05/25/18
A ‘coupon conundrum’ at a Largo Burger King landed him in jail

A ‘coupon conundrum’ at a Largo Burger King landed him in jail

LARGO— A flap over coupons led a Clearwater man to grab a Burger King employee and yank her over the counter, leading to his arrest, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Miguel Latorre, 23, was trying to use several coupons to buy a Whop...
Published: 05/25/18
New signs indicate reduced Bayshore Boulevard speed limit after racing deaths

New signs indicate reduced Bayshore Boulevard speed limit after racing deaths

TAMPA — Two days after a mother and daughter were struck by a speeding car Bayshore Boulevard, killing both, city officials on Friday began implementing changes aimed at ensuring safety along the busy roadway.On Friday morning, workers began installi...
Published: 05/25/18
He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

GULFPORT — An 18-year-old man, wearing an ankle bracelet, was arrested Thursday after he was accused of breaking into 13 cars in a one-block radius over the last week.Benjamin Langkamp Jr. faces 13 charges of vehicle burglary — each of which occurred...
Published: 05/25/18
Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

TAMPA — Hillsborough County deputies have identified the suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in January.Deputies are searching for 23-year-old Javon Rakeem Turner, who is wanted in the death of 22-year-old Elijah Moore on Jan. 17.According to depu...
Published: 05/25/18