MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - The Mount Vernon mother who was arrested in connection to her toddler’s "unusual" death over the weekend is due in court to be arraigned on Monday.
On Saturday, Dasia Bartee, 26, was arrested after her 15-month-old daughter Samia Yusef was found dead in her crib on Friday morning. She is expected to be arraigned on first-degree manslaughter charges.
Shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Friday, police responded to the Washington Street apartment on a 911 call, where they found the toddler unresponsive. First responders performed life-saving measures, but the child was declared dead less than a half hour later.
According to police, the initial investigation indicates that the toddler was dead for several hours. She sustained significant trauma to the face and suffered from internal bleeding, though the official cause of death has not been determined. When police arrived at the apartment, the “temperature of the toddler’s body was extremely cold, which indicates an unusual situation.”
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas’ press assistant said that the toddler was one of three children living in the apartment at the time of Bartee’s arrest.
“The Mount Vernon Police Department is investigating all avenues, including the possibility that the child’s body may have been placed in a freezer at some time,” she said in a statement. “Two other children in the home at the time were unharmed and placed in the custody of child protective services.”
Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate called the crime scene “gruesome,” and said that the department is providing counseling for the officers involved.
“It was a gruesome discovery that shocked even our most senior officers on the job,” he said. “We are providing counseling services to all officers impacted on this case and are working even harder to strengthen our relationship with the community to help families in need. I commend our officers for their hard work in making an arrest in this case.”
Thomas added that the toddler’s “unnecessary death” is one that will have wide-sweeping effects on the entire city. He said by contacting 211, parents in need can get connected to people that can provide assistance.
“I hope the sword of justice is swift and cuts deep, as this toddler’s death was completely unnecessary,” he said. “Samia’s tragic loss hurts the entire Mount Vernon family, and as a parent, I know I hugged my own children even closer when I got home.
“If you know someone who is struggling as a parent, please reach out and support them. Tragic deaths such as Samia’s do not have to happen.”