AUBURN, Mass. (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine how a 2-year-old girl died and a second young girl was left in critical condition after they were found unresponsive at a home in Massachusetts.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early said Sunday night the girls were discovered at an apartment complex in Auburn, about 45 miles west of Boston, after their foster mother called 911 around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
When emergency officials arrived, they found one girl unconscious and performed CPR. She was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital. An autopsy was performed Sunday night. Early said life-saving measures were performed on the second girl, also about 2 years old, who remained in “very critical” condition. He said the foster mother is cooperating with authorities.
The names of the children and foster mother have not been released. A third foster child and the woman’s three biological children also lived in the home. They are in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families. Early said they showed no obvious signs of abuse.
DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman said in a statement that the agency is working with law enforcement officials and also is conducting its own investigation. Early called the situation “a very difficult case.” He said air quality tests were done at the home and carbon monoxide poisoning has been ruled out.
Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis Jr. said the mother is “very familiar” to police. The Telegram & Gazette in Worcester reported that Sluckis said police had been to the apartment several times for incidents including domestic issues and an identity theft case in which the tenants were victims.
No arrests have been made in connection with the foster children case. David Coxon, 69, told The Boston Globe he learned his granddaughter had died after a DCF official called him Saturday night and asked for his daughter’s telephone number. Minutes later, he said his daughter telephoned him.
Coxon said his granddaughter was placed in foster care after her mother, Jessica Conway, was sentenced to a year in prison. He said Conway is completing a residential drug rehabilitation program. DCF authorities would not confirm the mother’s name, The Globe reported.
Neighbors said they heard the woman who lives in the apartment screaming outside at about 1 p.m. Saturday and saw the girls being taken away in an ambulance. Sonia Guzman, who lives across the street, told reporters her daughter rushed over to help the woman, who was holding an uninjured 6-month-old baby in her arms.
“She’s a really good mother with the kids,” Guzman said. She added that the woman was planning to adopt some of her foster children. On Sunday afternoon, neighbors placed a bouquet of flowers, candles and two stuffed toys outside the home.
Elizabeth Guyton, a spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker, said Sunday he is “deeply saddened to learn of this tragic situation” and is in communication with DCF and public safety officials about the ongoing investigation.