BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — A toddler was found dead in deplorable conditions in Brevard County, and her mother has been subsequently charged.
Melissa Lehman appeared at the jail for the first time Wednesday.
The judge ruled that she would be held on no bond.
According to documents from Melbourne police, officers were called to a residence on July 28, around 5 a.m., after a deceased toddler was reported.
Police say four people lived inside the home: Melissa Lehman, her 18-month-old daughter named Charlotte, Melissa’s boyfriend, Glen, and Melissa’s friend, Mark.
Officers entered the trailer residence and found the Lehman’s daughter deceased on the linoleum floor of the kitchen. The girl had no pulse and was cold to the touch, documents state. Cocaine was found near her shared bed.
Officers did not observe any visible trauma to the girl’s body.
Lehman stated she called 911 after Mark woke up and found the toddler unresponsive. Documents state Lehman slept with her boyfriend in a separate bed and had her daughter sleep in a twin bed with her friend, Mark, an adult male of no relation to the child. Police noticed the mattress was dirty and littered with skin sheddings and dried bloodstains. A pipe and marijuana were observed next to the bed.
“Charlotte was co-sleeping with a full-grown adult male, one of the roommates. In a bed that measured no more than 38 inches. And the top of that the bed was filthy. There was blood. Old blood, skin shedding. Just horrible,” said Det. Tom Cahalan with the Melbourne Police Department.
An examination of the trailer revealed “filthy and unkempt” conditions, police said. Ants and cockroaches were seen crawling around, along with drug paraphernalia, including needles, pipes, powder residue and cut straws. Officers also discovered a loaded pistol in Lehman’s purse, easily accessible to the child.
Lehman, Mark and Glen all stated the toddler seemed happy and healthy the day before she had been found unresponsive. Interviews conducted with all three revealed that they used marijuana and that Mark and Glen “shot up” Suboxone, a drug used to treat their opioid addiction. None of the adults could think of any reason for the girl’s death.
The Brevard County Medical Examiner examined the child and found no evidence of physical abuse or sexual assault. In October, the girl’s toxicology results came back, and her cause of death was ruled to be from cocaine toxicity and positional asphyxia. Other significant factors included the girl’s low body weight.
Officers determined that Lehman was responsible for the girl’s death due to failing to provide her with care and supervision essential for her well-being, and by subjecting her to deplorable and hazardous living conditions.
Lehman faces charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and child neglect.