Mom Charged With Murder After 2-Year-Old Left in Minivan Dies (VIDEO)

Heartbreaking 82

james nelsonWe all wish parents would stop leaving their babies in the car, especially on hot days. Too many children have died that way. But should a parent be charged with murder if the child they've left behind dies? Michigan mother Audrionna Rhoades faces second-degree murder and child negligent abuse charges following the death of her son. Police say Rhoades left 2-year-old James Nelson in a hot minivan for over 12 hours.

James' grandfather (and Rhoades' father) Johnny was the one to find the toddler, unfortunately all too late. "I go down there, and he’s dead. He’s in the van, strapped in his frickin’ car seat, sopping wet, blue. My girlfriend tried CPR, but he was dead. The poor baby." It wasn't even a hot day out, only in the 70s. But by the time James was pulled out of the van, his temperature was at 108 degrees.

According to police, Rhoades strapped James into a car seat in a minivan around 8:30 a.m., left him in a trailer park driveway, and then drove to work in a separate car. The windows were left rolled up. Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith says, "We believe the evidence demonstrates that the actions of the defendant showed a reckless disregard of the life of her child." And that's why Rhoades was charged with murder, which is unusual for cases like these.

It's hard to imagine how a parent could strap a child into a car seat and then leave them there for an entire day -- like you're leaving your child at a daycare center. Even if heatstroke weren't a factor, it's just stunningly irresponsible. It makes me wonder what Rhoades' story is. Why would she do something like this? Was she caught in a lurch, unable to find childcare? Or did she really just not care?

Sources say Rhoades did it because she "wanted a care-free lifestyle." And what mother doesn't? But I think the implication is that she wanted to intentionally harm her baby, which is quite a heavy accusation.

I also wonder if this murder charge could serve as a deterrent to other parents who consider leaving their babies in the car for any amount of time. We see over and over again how dangerous this practice is -- even for shorter amounts of time. And yet, parents keep doing it.

But if the potential death of your child isn't enough of a deterrent, I don't think the threat of murder charges will help much, either.

Anyway, while it's heartbreakingly unwise to leave your child in a hot car, I don't think every parent who does it deserves murder charges -- only those who intend to kill their children. Otherwise, the horror of a dead child is punishment enough. But the more awareness is raised about the dangers of this practice, the more culpable parents who do it anyway become.

Do you think parents whose babies and toddlers die from being left in a car should be charged with murder?


Image via ABC News

crime, death, child abuse


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Nurse... Nursekelly1980

Evil woman! She did it on purpose, whyis she not murder? She premeditated it, left him there knowing what she was doing. That poor baby

Cari Poissant

Who doesnt know where their child is for 12 hours????? Yes she should be charged with murder!! She should also never be allowed to have anymore kids! She put him in a car seat, then took another car and she isnt even the one who found him 12 hours later!!!

jrphelps jrphelps

This story made me sick to my stomach & cry.  I can't imagine what that poor baby went through.  I know there are times when my son (who is the same age as this baby) doesn't realize I am going to get him out of the passenger side instead of the driver's side rear door as I normally do.  Just in the time it takes me to get out of the driver's seat to the other side of the car, he is bawling because he thought I left him in there.  This woman should rot in hell.

nonmember avatar blue

EVERY parent or caretaker who leaves a child in a car, should be charged with something. It's NEGLIGENT, and last I checked...something doesn't have to be purposeful, to be neglect. We have to stop letting people get away with being responsible for children dying. Parents and caretakers should be held responsible for mistakes that lead to death. That idiot did it on purpose, and I think it's really obvious. The murder charge is appropriate.

schlis schlis

nonmember avatar Kristi

Each case is different but in every case their should be a charge whether it is murder or negligence---there should ALWAYS be a charge of some sort.
The grandpas description was heartbreaking. I hope the mom is strapped into a hot car and left for 12 hours. Now that would be a fitting punishment wouldn't it?

CrazyAZ CrazyAZ

OMG he looks like my little guy who I had to leave behing this morning with his babysitter and come to work. This article is killing me. I wanted to take a quick "The Stir" break and read something entertaining...why oh why did I click on this. I miss my kids so bad right now ...I can't stand it. Beautiful baby boy.

sweet... sweetaspie630

I agree with blue. Anyone who leaves a child in a car should be charged with SOMETHING. If the child dies, murder, or negligent homicide. If the child doesn't die, attempted murder or attempted accidental homicide, and neglect, endangering the welfare of a minor, child endangerment, etc. Whatever possigle charges. People can do whatever they want to their kids, and other peoples kids and usually get just a slap on the wrist. It's time we cracked down.

adamat34 adamat34

Can we shoot her? Seems logical.

D.j. Lord

but its ok...right,stir?....never gonna live that one down

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