Just four days after little William Blackwell took his first breaths of life, he died after his mother placed the newborn in a refrigerator for three hours, according to authorities.
Angela Blackwell, 27, of 534 Rose St. in Chester, was arrested Monday and charged with homicide by child abuse, officials said. Blackwell was being held Tuesday at the Chester County Detention Center without bond.
William died from hypothermia with asphyxiation from being placed in the cold, according to Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker. The incident happened Feb. 27, just four days after William was born.
Investigators say Blackwell put her infant son in the refrigerator for three hours and didn’t seek medical attention until after she removed him from the fridge, according to an arrest warrant.
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Deputies responded to Chester Regional Medical Center on Feb. 27 after the child was brought in by EMS unresponsive, according to a sheriff’s report. The baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Chester County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the State Law Enforcement Division’s child fatality unit.
A sheriff’s official declined to comment Tuesday on the timing of the arrest.
No new details about the case were released during Blackwell’s first appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Chester County Law Enforcement Complex. A magistrate was not allowed to set bond because Blackwell’s charge carries up to life in prison. She is expected to go before a circuit court judge for a bond hearing in November.
Blackwell’s common law husband and William’s father, Jeff Lewis, told reporters that Blackwell is mentally disabled but that she loves her children and is very protective of them.
Blackwell and Lewis have another child, a 3-year-old son who was taken by DSS after the baby died.
“She’s always good to the kids, anybody’s kids,” said Lewis’ father, Billy Lewis, who added that the family believes Blackwell didn’t put her son in the fridge.
“We know she didn’t do it,” he said, “but we don’t know who did.”
Billy Lewis said there were multiple people staying in the home the night before William died, including two children that Blackwell’s sister was babysitting. He recalled the chaotic scene the next morning after the baby was found in the refrigerator.
“They were running around the house, hollering and carrying on,” he said. “I was wondering what was wrong, so I went in my son’s room. He was giving the baby CPR.”
Billy Lewis tears up thinking about the short time he spent with his newborn grandson.
“I held him for two-and-a-half hours, singing and humming to him,” he said. “It’s just too hard.”
Blackwell faces 20 years to life in prison, if convicted.