Monday, December 11, 2017
Public safety

Tampa mother of 8-month-old baby who died in December charged with aggravated child abuse

TAMPA — The night before 8-month-old Gabrielle Crawford died, his mother used enough force to break his arm and leg, police say.

Rosalee Crawford didn't seek help, and her son died the next morning, according to Tampa police.

On Friday — two months after the child's death — authorities charged Crawford, 33, with two counts of aggravated child abuse.

She could face additional charges, but authorities are waiting for a final autopsy report before they decide. She is in the Orient Road jail.

Gabrielle's twin brother, Micha, has been in foster care since just after Gabrielle's death.

Crawford had previously refused interviews but changed her mind Friday, police say, after hearing about a Tampa Bay Times report on her son's death. The Times reported Friday that after weeks of investigating, authorities determined Gabrielle's death was a homicide.

The state Department of Children and Families called Gabrielle's death another example of the failure of Hillsborough Kids Inc., the county's lead child protection agency, to avert a death in a family under its watch. HKI lost its $65.5 million contract in January. Eckerd Youth Alternatives, which performs similar services in Pinellas and Pasco, will take over July 1.

Gabrielle was the ninth child in an active case to die in the past two years. No other region in the state has a child death rate as high; most have had one to two child deaths.

On March 11, Gabrielle and Micha were born prematurely. Gabrielle had multiple birth defects, including hydrocephalus, known as water on the brain. He was never expected to live past 2. In his first months, he endured on a ventilator and a feeding tube, first at Tampa General Hospital and later at a nursing home.

Then in September, the nursing home discharged him with a shunt behind his ear and a feeding tube. He was given to his mother, who was staying at the Alpha House, a shelter for mothers in crisis.

Over the past 10 years, Rosalee Crawford has received help for substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. Her four older children had been taken by the state.

But the Alpha House refused to accept Gabrielle because it isn't able to care for a baby with such severe medical issues, according to a DCF report.

So Crawford would have to leave the shelter, "a key stabilizing force in her life."

On Dec. 2, Crawford's friend Charlotte Tobias called 911 to report that Gabrielle wasn't breathing.

Tobias had allowed Crawford and her twins to spend the night at her Tampa home. She said Crawford had shown up about 1 a.m. saying she couldn't get Gabrielle to stop crying.

Micha slept in a car seat. Gabrielle lay in a bed between his mother and Tobias. He cried most of the night. He seemed inconsolable. Tobias said he had a large blue mark on his forehead.

Just after 8 a.m., Tobias said Crawford woke her, asking for a light for her cigarette. Gabrielle was lying on his back. Tobias thought he was sleeping. She got up and left the room.

Then she heard Crawford screaming. She found Crawford holding Gabrielle, attempting a crude form of CPR. She said the baby was unresponsive, cold to the touch.

He was dead.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433. John Barry can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3383.

Comments
Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

Weeks after burying his son Anthony Naiboa, one of four people gunned down over the span of 51 days in Seminole Heights, Casimar Naiboa has a new and unwanted ritual.He drives past a makeshift memorial his family made for his son, set up where Anthon...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

NEW YORK — A man inspired by the Islamic State group set off a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, injuring the man, slightly wounding three others and sending New York commuters fleeing in terr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High in St. Petersburg was placed on lockdown Monday morning following reports of a weapon on campus, but the threat was later downgraded and the school was placed in lockout status instead. St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.The trimmer was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg after the incident, which occurred just before 11 a.m. at 1309 Mil...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Space heater may have sparked fire that destroyed St. Petersburg home

ST. PETERSBURG — A space heater may have sparked a fire that destroyed a home in St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon.St. Petersburg fire officials say the fire occurred some time before 3 p.m. at 1225 21st St. S.According to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

LOS ANGELES — As Southern California enters its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials anticipate more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain and decades-old dry vegetation. A powerful flare-up on the western edge of th...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

When the fire chief asked if anyone in the room had fallen before, a few in the gray- and white-haired crowd raised their hands. One woman lost her footing as she was answering the phone. Another saw a palmetto bug, sprayed it with repellent, then s...
Updated: 9 hours ago
‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

Popular comedian Hannibal Buress was arrested Saturday night in Wynwood on a disorderly intoxication charge after an encounter with a police officer.Buress, 34, was booked into a Miami-Dade jail at 1:57 a.m. Sunday and posted bail just before 6 a.m.,...
Published: 12/10/17
Florida Uber driver charged with sexual assault of passenger

Florida Uber driver charged with sexual assault of passenger

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida Uber driver is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a drunken passenger.The Orlando Sentinel reports that 38-year-old Jorge Alberto Antunez Quintero was charged this week with sexual battery after an investigation ...
Published: 12/09/17
Florida man accused of killing Ollie the pit bull faces 17 counts of animal cruelty

Florida man accused of killing Ollie the pit bull faces 17 counts of animal cruelty

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Florida man accused in the brutal stabbing death of a pit bull named Ollie is facing 17 counts of aggravated animal cruelty — one for each of 16 deep stab wounds and one for trapping the dog inside a suitcase.Prosecutors filed f...
Published: 12/09/17