Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 or (813) 226-3433. John Barry can be reached at or (813) 226-3383.

Tampa mother of 8-month-old baby who died in December charged with aggravated child abuse 02/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 3, 2012 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation


    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  2. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  3. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.