City Desk

A Newborn Died at the D.C. General Shelter in February

Shooting, Columbia Heights

A newborn was found unconscious at the D.C. General family shelter on the morning of Feb. 9. The baby girl was rushed to Children's Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Beverly Fields, the spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, tells City Desk that the cause and manner of the child's death are still pending.

D.C. Police Assistant Chief Peter Newsham says the baby had no signs of infection and that the autopsy had showed no signs of trauma. "The baby was alone in a bassinet," he says.

According to a resident at the shelter, who was a close friend, the mother had come to D.C. General pregnant in September. Soon after giving birth in early January at a local hospital, she returned to the shelter. The resident said that there were other mothers who also had children during their stays at D.C. General but either chose not to return or to place their newborns with family.

When the mother came back to the shelter, the resident, she received no help from staff taking care of the baby. She said the mother was troubled and appeared overwhelmed.

Telephone messages left for the mother went unreturned.

File photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • B

    What in god's name was a woman with a newborn doing in a homeless shelter? What's wrong with someone where they take their baby there? There are freaking hundreds if not thousands of born agains in PG County and Fairfax ALONE who would put a new mom up for 6 months. Some people don't have the good sense god gave a goat. In a tragedy like this it's uncool to talk about Darwin, but sheesh, that mom needs to get charged with manslaughter.

    Shut down all the homeless shelters now. People don't need safety nets they need a cold glass of water thrown in their face.

    Could you imagine being a poor staffmember confronted with a mom like that begging you for help? talk about not in your job description.

    Shut down all the homeless shelters in the DC boundaries and open up work farms.

  • Typical DC BS

    @B, you are an idiot. Hard to believe you have any education whatsoever. Let's see, where to begin to analyze the stupidity of your statements?

    How about "Can you imagine being a poor staffmember confronted with a mom like that begging you for help?" Guess what genius, THAT'S THEIR JOB TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE. Guess you'd just walk on by also. Hope you're never confronted with facing a situation like this. Maybe you'd just call up the vast born again network that will leap into action to help a woman who is obviously troubled. Moron.

  • DC Hoodrat

    Their job is to deal withy people NOT rear a child that some stupid, poor bitch fucked for that she didn't know how to take care of.

    Her obligation was to care for her damn child. Where was the baby's father? Oh... right... It's all society's fault.

  • Ward 6 Voter

    Once again another disaster by the DC Government. This time one can look to old Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells who has oversight of DC Homeless Shelters through his Committee on Human Services. The City Paper did report that Wells paid a visit to the shelter in February but typically that was all he did.

    Not to get political, but Wells is at best a jerk with no understanding of his roll in DC Government. Sorry but we need to eliminate him and his staff before they do more harm to the residents of DC.

    Thanks City Paper for bringing this matter to our attention. Meanwhile, Wells and his staff continue to say that the 851 people in the homeless shelter at DC General are there only for the hypothermia period scheduled to end on March 31. Officially Wells and staff continue to deny that the city's largest warehouse shelter for the homeless now exists in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Ward 6.

  • DC Hoodrat

    Technically it exists on the edge of a residential neighborhood. The jail is next door and the Armory on the other side. St Coletta's building is in between.

  • Shakingmyhead

    @ DC Hoodrat first off, how could you call yourself a Hoodrat? Second how do you know that the woman wasn't raped or something? and how do you know that the father is not around in both of their lives? You may think that having a father around is for the best but not all the time. You should think before you speak or put your fingers to your keyboard because your comment just proved that you are exactly what your name says. (dumbass)

    @B "WTF", how can you say close all shelters? Most people in the shelters turn to them because they have no family support or anyone to take them in. Why don't you and your "born agains" go to these places and pick some of these people up and take them to your house? Instead of complaining about their situations. As for the staff it is their JOB to help the residents out with the services they have at shelters be it if the person is depressed or suicidal or seeking job training. I'm sure the people in these shelters don't want to be there.

    Finanlly, DC Hoodrat and B both your heads should be clunked together like coconuts maybe that would knock some sense into both your stupid asses.

  • Hate Stupid People

    While i've never been homeless, I've seen it firsthand. Maybe, just maybe she went back there because she had nowhere else to go????

    It amazes me how much one can judge not realizing that God could very well put them in the same shoes. I do hope - that if the judgmental ignorant posters above were ever in this woman's shoes, they'd in fact take their own advice.

    Homelessness is a serious problem - for us all.

  • Summer18

    A lot of families due to personal crisis live in homeless shelters or motels to secure shelter for their children. However, with that also comes with personal responbility! I would like to know how the baby died, and if neglect was involved then the mother should be charged with neglect. Shelters have case managers that are there to assist residents with locating employment and evenutually affordable housing. Often residents do not comply with the rules and do not work with their case managers. Residents that do work hard with their case managers usually end up moving into affordable housing and becoming independent from the shelter. However, it does not mean children should die at shelters under the watch of their parents. The case managers at shelters are not babysitters they are professionals who make it very clear that parents are responsible for their own children. Case managers and shelter staff are responsible for noticting if children are neglected or abused by their parents while they are living at the shelter, and if this was overlooked by shelter staff then the shelter also holds some responsiblity for the death of this baby. A mmother simply appearing overwhelmed is not a case for neglect or abuse.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    In the 80s, Reagan closed down a lot of Veterans facility that catered to soldiers with mental disorders. As a result, a whole class of homeless people was created. Who's fault is that? Theirs?

    Rationalizing with a HOODRAT will get us nowhere. He's a piece of shit with the mentality of David Duke, Rush Limbaugh, or any other "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" to the bootless idiots. Life will catch up with him and when it finally hits home- he'll have a Ted Haggard awakening.

  • Summer18

    Unfortuntaley some families due to personal crisis live in homeless shelters. Although familes live at shelters it does not exclude them from personal responbility! We have yet to learn why the baby died. If parental neglect or abuse was involved the mother should be charged with neglect and abuse. Shelters have case managers who are to assist residents with locating employment, and evenutually transition them into affordable housing. Some residents do not comply with the rules, and do not work with their case managers. A large number of residents do work hard with their case managers, and end up moving into affordable housing and locating employment. This does not mean children should die at shelters under the watch of their parents. The case managers at shelters are not babysitters they are professionals who make it very clear that parents are responsible for their own children. Case managers and shelter staff are responsible for noticting suspected neglect or abuse by parents while they are living at the shelter, and if this fact was overlooked by shelter staff then the shelter does hold some responsiblity for the death of this baby. A mother simply appearing overwhelmed is not a case for neglect or abuse. Sadly some parents are not responsbile, and this fact could be the reason the baby died, however, we have yet to be provided with the facts on how and why the baby died.

  • DC Hoodrat


    Your comment is the most sensible yet. That's what people fail to realize. Her little dead brat was her responsibility.

    Of course you are more diplomatic than moi, but I agree with your sentiments.

  • Rick Mangus

    The city would be better off putting money into the animal shelter, at lease dogs and cats know how to take care of their young!

  • Joan

    If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em.

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  • Autumn

    This is very tragic, but you cannot place blame on the shelter. It is not the shelter staff's responsibility to raise a child, they are not trained for this nor do they have the resources for it.

    Even in a place like a homeless shelters, there are rules and guidelines you must follow to take advantage of their services. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to play by the rules. Sometimes, people suffer from mental illness, sometimes people just don't feel the rules apply to them.

    They say the mother appeared "overwhelmed" - most new mothers are overwhelmed even in the best situations. However, again, it is not the responsibility of the shelter staff to ensure that children are being raised properly.

    If this death is due to abuse, negligence or another manner of cause - the mother should be charged.

    We do need all the facts first. However, we also need people in general to take more personal responsibility and accountability. While of course there are exceptions, for most of us - we are responsible for our choices, good or bad, and have to deal with the consequences. You can't expect anyone else to clean up your messes in life.

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  • tired

    Joan, Rick and Hoodrat ,Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are missing their relatives. You guys sound like a bunch of idiots that need never breed, talk or walk because you deserve a labotomy. That was an inocent child not a brat, but I bet none of you jerks have children. Leave DC and take your white sheets with you.

  • tired

    Oh by the way have you heard of post partum depression. Oh sorry I forgot idiots like you don't know shit.

  • DC Hoodrat

    She wasn't too depressed to get fucked and have somebody get her pregnant.

  • Truth Hurts

    Will CP please ban hoodrat? He's sick. Please stop providing a forum for his hatred.

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  • DC Hoodrat


    People should swallow babies, not make them. A child died because of the selfishness of some dumb broad who didn't realize that she should have chosen anal or oral over vaginal intercourse.

  • just me

    that poor girl went there for help cause she needed it! those people are there to help people in her situation! yes it is true that she had to take care of her child herself but like it was said by someone with sense in one comment,there are case workers and other staff members that are to look over them while they are there!how come they didnt notice that this angel was in danger! as for u DC HOODRAT thats exactly what u are a HOODRAT a person like u should not be able to comment on something like this!ur an ignorant fool with no respect what so ever!how could u call a gift from GOD a brat?that poor child died of neglect not only by the mother but by the staff members!the staff should have noticed that child was being neglected but they didnt care to notice!u are nothing but a lowlife ignorant fool with no morals or respect!ur an idiot that should not be making any kind of statements on things like this!a animal has more sense than u do!do u realize how stupid ur making urself look!get a damn life and stop being such a little coward! as for u @B not everybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouth!ur a poor excuse for a human being!these shelters are to help people in need not everybody has someone they can go to for help and not everyone has a mommy and daddy to pay their bills and get them what they want or need!ur a spoiled careless bitch from what i have read u write i can tell!lets just hope that one day u dont end up in that situation!im sure if u were to end up in a situation like that u would most likely try to kill urself and whoever is with u! both u and that hoodrat need to keep ur ignorant thoughts to urself im sure that nobody cares to hear them so thats why u make stupid ass comments on these websites cause no one would listen to u in person!