Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa police investigate whether father shares blame in baby's death

TAMPA — Days after a Tampa woman was charged with killing her 4-month-old daughter, police are trying to figure out if the baby's father also bears some responsibility.

A week ago, Eboni Thompson grew frustrated with Markala Thompson's crying and put her hand around the baby's neck until the crying stopped, police said.

Thompson, 31, was under court order not to be alone with Markala. The baby and her four siblings lived with their father, Marcus Harden, about a mile from her in east Tampa.

When Thompson visited there last week, Harden stepped out for 15 minutes to go to the store.

Now, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said, officers are determining whether Harden, 38, should face charges for leaving the children alone with Thompson. He has been interviewed and is cooperating with police, she said.

"We are investigating to determine if he committed a crime and if charges are appropriate," McElroy said.

The Florida Department of Children and Families was protecting Markala nearly all of her short life.

The agency first got involved with Thompson a few years ago because of child neglect complaints involving the other children. A spokesman said he could not provide details, but said there were no signs of abuse or injuries.

When Markala was born in July, DCF officials immediately took her into shelter care. She moved in with Harden in September, and a court granted him custody in early December.

"Once the 4-month-old was born, we were pretty much involved with that kid right away," said the agency's regional director, Nick Cox.

Of Harden, Cox said "all indications were the dad was doing fine" and that "there was a high level of bonding there."

Officials had presented both parents with a "safety plan" that outlined basic standards of care for Markala, including that Thompson should not be left alone with the child. A case worker and Harden discussed the plan, according to a notation in the case file.

Until last week, the agency didn't know about any unsupervised visits by Thompson, Cox said. But, he said, both parents said in police interviews that Thompson was routinely "babysitting" her children, despite the court order prohibiting that.

"The one big question we had was: How in the world didn't somebody know that Mom was around these kids unsupervised?" Cox said. "They acknowledged they knew this was wrong and they were essentially secretly guarding this from everybody."

The agency has since removed the other children, including a toddler son and three daughters, ages 4, 6, and 17.

Reached last week, Harden's brother, 49-year-old Rudolph Harden, called him a loving father who was devastated by the child's death.

Here's what police say happened on Dec. 14:

While Harden was gone, Thompson admitted she got frustrated and put her hand around Markala's neck until she stopped crying. When Markala stopped breathing, Thompson put her in a bassinet and attempted chest compressions but could not revive the child.

Harden returned to find Thompson holding Markala. She placed the child back in the bassinet. When her toddler son went to reach for the baby, Harden stopped him and found Markala wasn't breathing.

Harden panicked and called 911, and the baby was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and pronounced dead.

Days later, Thompson was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse with great bodily harm.

In police interviews, Thompson admitted she had previously hit the child's head on a wall and bent her arm back with enough force to break it, police said.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the arm injury and three broken ribs.

Cox said a case manager frequently checked on Markala but was not aware of any injuries. The child's guardian ad litem and day care workers also did not notice the injuries, he said.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report. Lee Logan can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or llogan@sptimes.com.

Tampa police investigate whether father shares blame in baby's death 12/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, December 20, 2010 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  2. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  3. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.
  4. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter

    News

    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]
  5. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December

    Blogs

    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.