Toddler freezes to death in Alaska; mom charged

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 04, 2012 1:58 PM
Toddler freezes to death in Alaska; mom charged

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A second-grade teacher and her companion face homicide and abuse charges in the death of the woman's 3-year-old daughter, who authorities say was locked overnight in a freezing room in sub-zero temperatures with the window open, according to state records.

Esther Edwards-Gust and Richard Tilden were indicted in connection with the February 4 hypothermia death of the child, as well as injuries suffered by her 1-year-old sister, who was also in the cold room all night, according to state court records.

The two girls were airlifted to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage on February 2 after being found unresponsive in their Barrow home, according to local news reports.

The reports said both children suffered extreme hypothermia after being left overnight in a locked room with an open window during minus-30-degree weather.

Tilden was allegedly intoxicated when he was taking care of the girls at the time, according to the news reports. He is accused of opening the window and leaving them overnight in the locked room.

Edwards-Gust is a second-grade teacher at the Fred Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow, according to the North Slope Borough School District's website.

Another Barrow man connected to the case, Samisoni Fotukava, is facing a felony charge of illegally supplying alcohol. Local media reports said he was accused of selling alcohol to Tilden. Alcohol sales are prohibited in Barrow, the nation's northernmost community.

Arraignments for Tilden and Edwards-Gust are scheduled for Thursday in state Superior Court in Barrow, according to court records.

(Editing By Karen Brooks and Peter Bohan)