PLANT CITY — The woman lying in the median of S Alexander and W Grant streets late Thursday night needed help. She told Plant City police officers that she'd lost her baby and wanted to go to the hospital.
Paramedics took Talae Akei Thomas, 30, to South Florida Baptist Hospital, and officers went to her W Grant Street home to notify her family. When they got there, the door was open. Inside, 5-week-old Chase James Urijah Harrison was dead.
Thomas was charged Friday with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.
Her family gathered at her aunt's Plant City home Friday to try to piece together what happened to baby Chase, who starred in a whole album of photos his mom posted on Facebook in recent weeks.
On Nov. 8, she wrote: "I love my family, my child's father, and even people who have been mean to me, too. Our Father in heaven forgives us for we don't know what we do."
Thomas' statements and evidence found in her home suggest Chase's death was a homicide, Plant City police said without providing additional details.
Autopsy results from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner have not been released. Plant City police have not said how they think Chase died.
Still, in the midst of the investigation, Thomas' family pressed on, choosing a funeral home for Chase's arrangements and deciding on a graveside memorial service.
"She's a very intelligent and very sweet person," said Winnie T. Durant, 57, Thomas' aunt and a retired U.S. Army sergeant. "But Talae started having mental problems years ago."
Durant said her niece graduated from Kathleen High School in Polk County, went on to get her nursing degree at Florida A&M University and became a registered nurse — just like her older sister, mother and grandmother.
"She comes from a very smart family," Durant said.
Until three and half years ago, Thomas worked as a nurse. That's when Durant said her niece had her first nervous breakdown.
"She was having hallucinations and other mental problems," Durant said.
Months after Thomas was diagnosed, her mother, Rhonda Parham Thomas, died — adding to her mental stress.
A little over a year ago, Thomas was declared legally disabled because of her psychiatric issues. She lived with her father, former engineer 58-year-old Abra Thomas Sr., but moved out more than six months ago.
Her relatives would not speculate on what happened Thursday.
Thomas was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail, where she was being held without bond.