Mom Arrested When Her Second Baby Dies After Co-Sleeping

mother charged in co-sleeping deathCo-sleeping is sometimes unfairly named as the cause of a baby's death, but it's really negligence on the parent's part. In June, Terri Lynn Wells and Anthony C. Schlieper discovered their 4-month-old baby Anterio K. Schlieper had died while co-sleeping, but as the case was investigated, it was revealed that the parents were "morbidly intoxicated." It's a terrible tragedy, and while the parents didn't seem to intend to harm their child, they made the mistake of mixing drinking with co-sleeping. Co-sleeping didn't kill this child -- bad judgment, or rather impaired judgment, did.

Now another mother is in the news after her children died while co-sleeping. Children. Two babies. In two separate instances a year apart. Katherine Anne Jennings was co-sleeping with her 4-month-old baby James Robert Phillips in June 2012 when he suffocated as a result. In December of 2013, this same mother was co-sleeping with her second son, 8-month-old Luke Stephen Phillips, which resulted in his death.

Charlotte, North Carolina, police arrested Jennings, 33, on Monday and it marks the first time this district attorney's office filed these kind of charges against a parent who was co-sleeping when a baby died. Perhaps co-sleeping deaths need to be looked at more closely. If this mother got the help she needed after her first baby's death, maybe the second baby wouldn't have died in the same way. 

Jennings' first son James' death was deemed an accident due to co-sleeping. But the charges were later changed to "undetermined." Then the following year, her second son Luke died after co-sleeping with her on the couch. That was also first recorded as an accident. But the cops looked into the case more and have arrested her. Jennings is looking at nearly five years jail time if convicted. She has a 4-year-old daughter as well, but that child lives with her father and was not in the home during these incidents.

This is a tragedy in every sense. And I want to believe that Jennings didn't mean to harm her babies. Maybe there was something going on with her that made co-sleeping dangerous. It has been reported that she has a history of alcohol abuse. She has four DUIs on her record. I hope she gets the help she needs. Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger said, "Similar cases nationwide usually involve parents who exhibit a dangerous pattern of behavior and disregard the safety of their children."

To solely blame co-sleeping and to say that it is unsafe, even after hearing this story, is wrong. There are safe ways to co-sleep, just like there are safe ways to cross the street. There are certain rules to follow to make sure safety comes first. Many parents co-sleep without incident and never put babies in harm's way. As parents, we always have to be alert, aware, and not do things to put our kids in danger. This mother shouldn't have been co-sleeping -- not with the first child or the second.

Do you think this mother should be charged with her children's deaths?


Image via Brunswick County Police



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Jeana... JeanaJaybird

Yes I do believe the charges against her are warranted. I'm not trying to be judgemental and I do comprehend the fact that accidents do happen ... but you can only make a mistake once, the second time it's a choice. My children have always slept in the bed with me and I couldn't imagine how I could go on if an accident did occur -- let alone allow it to happen again. Maybe there are some other factors here, such as obesity or a sleeping pill prescription .. I don't know. Rip to these poor babies.

balan... balancing-act

Co sleeping isn't killing these children intoxicated parents being negligent are.

youth... youthfulsoul

Here's an idea...if you co slept and accidentally killed your baby, how about not rolling those dice a second time. 

nonmember avatar Vikki

I'm a mother of 9 and I've co-slept with every single one of my babies. Never once have we had an incidence of our babies being suffocated or in any danger... Then again, never once did my husband or I go to bed intoxicated...

Charl... Charlyla2

I sleep in the same bed with my 3-year-old and my 10-month-old. They have slept with me since day one. I have never gone to bed under the influence of anything and wake up if one of them even attempts to move beyond my touch. It isn't about co-sleepong. It's about being intoxicated while caring for kids. People are just plain stupid.

Caera Caera

Yes. Co-sleeping is stupidly dangerous. Any parent who has a child die while co-sleeping should be charged with murder.

nonmember avatar nanaof18

Caera you are stupid not all cases should be treated as murder

sterl... sterling21

Mothers in there right minds usually never roll over on there babies. Cribs are a new thing and privy to rich countries where there is more than one room. For thousands of years families shared sleeping space, and now there billions of people on earth, co sleeping is not the issue.

Azale... AzaleaMichelle

I think we should be merciful in our judgements. Sometimes there are underlying conditions that result in a child's death. Its possible that there is a hereditary weakness that both children had. I know some children who died of 'crib death' later were found to have disease/weakness that could not have been prevented. If this was truly an accident then I can imagine the terrible pain she must be experiencing right now. She is coping with the loss of a child as well as accusations. If she is innocent then this woman needs our support and prayers.

HotNa... HotNativeMommy

Second stupid comment I've seen from caera today.

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