BROOKSVILLE — The call came in at 6:17 that morning. Tiffany Mitchell told Kraig Broshears that their 2-year-old daughter Kaylynn wasn't breathing.
Broshears said Wednesday that he rushed to the girl's Brooksville home, but he was too late. The girl known to family and friends as Bella was dead.
On Tuesday, Mitchell was arrested on a charge of manslaughter by culpable negligence after a lengthy investigation.
Authorities say that Mitchell, 26, left an oxycodone pill on a nightstand, within reach of the toddler, before she went to take a shower. An autopsy revealed the girl died in her sleep on Jan. 31.
Broshears, 29, of Brooksville, said he and Mitchell broke up without marrying when she was three months pregnant.
But he said she was a decent mom. She had all the bases covered: food, clothing and a place to sleep, he said.
They would call or text each other occasionally to discuss custody arrangements and their daughter. He said he used to see her around town occasionally, but the topic of their daughter's death never came up.
"It was too hard to talk about," he said.
He has mixed feelings on Mitchell's arrest.
"It has brought some closure to what's going on, but it's not going to bring her back," he said.
Mitchell, of Brooksville, had her first appearance in court Wednesday morning where her attorney, Jimmy Brown, tried to get her bail lowered to $2,500 from $15,000. The judge said he was uncomfortable going that far because Mitchell's potential punishment "could be severe."
Her bail instead was reduced to $10,000 and she bonded out of the Hernando County Detention Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Mitchell's father, brother and sister were in court to show support, Brown said. "It's a bit like an aftershock to an earthquake," he said about the effect of Mitchell's arrest on her family. "It has rocked them hard."
Mitchell has two other children, Dylan, 6, and Shawn, 8, with Max Snyder, 28. It was unclear Wednesday whether Mitchell has custody of the boys.
When investigators initially interviewed Mitchell on March 10, she denied knowing how her daughter got oxycodone in her system despite a toxicology report that showed the powerful drug was in Kaylynn's system.
The next day, reports say, Mitchell returned to the Sheriff's Ooffice and admitted that she had left the pill that killed her daughter on the nightstand.
Mitchell, who had no criminal record before her child's death, told investigators she had looked for the missing pill but could not find it. She stopped looking as it was getting late, she told investigators.
When she checked on Kaylynn at some point later, she found her unresponsive, she feared that her daughter had taken the drug accidentally.
"She automatically knew that the tablet she left on the nightstand had to be the one in Kaylynn's system which caused her death,'' a sheriff's report stated.
Broshears said he didn't know if Mitchell had a prescription for her pills, and investigators have not released that detail of the case.
Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said that even a small amount of oxycodone can be deadly in the hands of small children. The drug can stop them from breathing if they don't receive medical attention.
"It is possible that a child might die," she said, noting that what happened to Kaylynn is not a particularly rare event.
"We see kids getting their parents' medication on a daily basis," she said.
Staff photojournalist Will Vragovic and Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Melvin Backman can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6114.