A woman from Indianapolis faced charges after she went missing with her baby daughter who was later found dead.
Rachel McAfee and her three-month-old daughter, Emma, went missing early Monday morning from their home. Police found Emma’s body Tuesday afternoon in McAfee’s SUV. McAfee was hospitalized for cold-related injuries and was later transferred to police custody and formally charged with a felony. She was arrested Wednesday on a preliminary charge of neglect of a dependent causing death.
If found guilty, she faces a prison sentence of 20-40 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Her husband, John McAfee said his wife took their daughter out Monday morning before she stopped answering her phone. She was supposed to be dropping Emma at a family member’s place and then go to work. She never showed up at either place.
A missing person’s report was filed for both the mother and daughter by Monday evening. Residents in the northwest side of the city spotted an unfamiliar car with McAfee inside it and requested a welfare check from the police, local newspaper and website IndyStar reported.
Rachel, 36, and three-month-old Emma were found in the car. While Rachel had some injuries, Emma was pronounced dead at the scene. It wasn’t confirmed how long the infant was dead before being discovered. The cause of the infant’s death was unavailable since a coroner was examining the body.
According to John, Rachel suffered from postpartum depression and alcoholism. “She’s drank since I’ve known her, but it’s gotten out of control the last couple of years. That’s kind of when all this started spiraling.”
He also said that whenever Rachel was sober, she could have discussions and listen to everyone. However when she drinks, “she just completely throws everything out the window and starts over back at scratch.”
Before Rachel and Emma were found, John expressed his concern over the safety of his daughter since his wife had been acting “unusually.” He said the infant couldn’t fend for herself and that his wife was facing some postpartum depression.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Rachel suffered from alcoholism, postpartum depression and possibly suicidal tendencies. They said they had been called the week prior to check on her emotional welfare. The couple has another child, a son, whose name and age were not revealed. He is in the custody of his father.
Bethany Monte, a midwife at Saint Vincent’s, said it was vital for all families to watch out for the symptoms of postpartum depression and seek help. She said it can happen to anyone and this case should serve as a lesson to all the other new parents.
Ranging from mood and behavioral issues to changes affecting the whole body, the symptoms of postpartum depression can possibly lead to child neglect and even difficulty in bonding with the child.
Dr. Travis Richardson, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Indiana University Health, said that an estimated 10 percent of women who give birth are diagnosed with postpartum depression. Of these, almost 15 percent self-medicate with alcohol and end up with an alcohol addiction.
“We generally recognize that women suffering from perinatal mood disorders may be at increased risk for substance abuse. Those two may be commonly be seen together and the treatment may go hand-in-hand,” he said.