One Infant Dead, Another in Critical Condition After Being Found in Bathtub as Mother Arrested

By Zachary Stieber

A Tennessee mother was taken into custody after her two infant daughters were found unresponsive in a bathtub.

Bethanie Carriker, 34, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse by neglect.

Carriker’s 15-month-old daughter was pronounced dead after she was rushed to the hospital; her 20-day-old daughter was also rushed to the hospital and is in critical condition.

The names of the girls have not been released.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said deputies, firefighters with the Seymour Fire Department, and other emergency responders came to the house in Seymour on May 7 after receiving a call around 2:45 p.m. saying that two infants were found unresponsive there.

Seymour Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Lisenbigler told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that both children were “pulseless and not breathing.”

When emergency responders arrived, they found Carriker trying to perform CPR on both children, he said.

According to court documents obtained by WBIR, Carriker told a dispatcher during the 911 call that she had put the two children in the bathtub and left the room for 10-12 minutes. When she returned, she said she found the two children blue and unresponsive.

An autopsy of the 15-month-old girl was scheduled for Wednesday and Carriker was set to appear in Blount County General Sessions Court on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. She was being held on $1 million bond.

“Just devastating. I mean absolutely devastating,” Amy Smith, who lives down the street, told WBIR. “Both of them being in the bathtub and [thinking] which one do I resuscitate and how do I do that. Just unbelievable. I cannot imagine what she’s going through right now.”

The feet of a newborn baby
A baby in a file photo. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Child Abuse

An estimated 674,000 children were determined to be victims of maltreatment in 2017, according to the Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. Of the victims, about 75 percent were neglected, 18 percent were physically abused, and 9 percent were sexually abused. Nationwide, an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect, a decline from the 1,750 children who died from the same in the previous year.

Officials said there was an increase in the number of referrals to Child Protective Services for an investigation but that there was a decline in the number of maltreatment cases, a phenomenon they will be probing.

Of the abused children, 25 percent were younger than 1 year old. Another 52 percent were between 1 year old and 5 years old. The children who were killed by abuse or neglect were also overwhelmingly young, with about half of the fatalities being younger than 1 year old. Boys made up 58 percent of the deaths.

Perpetrators of abuse or neglect are most often in the 25 to 34 age range. More than four-fifths (83.4 percent) of the perpetrators were between 18 and 44 years old. Perpetrators were more likely to be female.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so officials can investigate and assess the situation. Most states have a number to call to report abuse or neglect.

To find out where to call, consult the State Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers website. The Childhelp organization can also provide crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. Contact them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

“Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children (a referral can include multiple children),” according to Childhelp.