A babysitter in Northwest Arkansas has been arrested on a manslaughter charge after an 8-month-old girl she was caring for died earlier this week, police say.
Melissa Garcia-Rivera, 21, was booked into the Benton County jail around 7:45 p.m. Thursday, records show. She remained there as of Friday afternoon, and no bail had been set.
Garcia-Rivera’s fiance, Marco Antonio Garcia, took the infant to Mercy Medical Hospital on Tuesday, according to the affidavit. A detective with the Rogers Police Department responded to the hospital a short time later.
Medical staff told authorities the child, whose temperature was around 100.5 degrees when she arrived, showed no signs of injuries. She was soaked in what was believed to be sweat, an officer said.
Garcia-Rivera changed her account of what happened to the child multiple times over the course of interviews, initially saying she had merely found the child not breathing while checking on her, according to the affidavit.
The report said that Garcia-Rivera later said she had placed two pillows on top of the 8-month-old in an effort to get her to sleep and to prevent the infant from pushing herself up while lying on her stomach.
Most accounts described the child as “fussing” earlier in the day, prompting the babysitter to take some form of action.
Garcia-Rivera also went back and forth on whether she had been frustrated with the child, insisting she did not intentionally kill her, police said.
Garcia-Rivera told authorities by phone Thursday that the truth was that she laid the child down for a nap and found her unresponsive about an hour later.
She said two pillows had been placed beside the infant, with a blanket covering her. When the babysitter went to check on the 8-month-old, the child was lying on her stomach with the blanket almost entirely covering her, according to the affidavit. A pillow also was reportedly on top of her.
Police said Garcia-Rivera later admitted to pulling the blanket over the child’s head, explaining that she was “just trying to keep it dark so [the infant] would go to sleep.”
The babysitter reportedly told authorities that she “did not understand why [the child] did not kick the pillows and blanket off.”
Over the course of the interviews, Garcia-Rivera explained that she was afraid because she was trying to obtain U.S. citizenship, did not want the child taken away and did not want to go to jail.
An autopsy was inconclusive regarding the cause of the infant’s death, the affidavit said. No trauma or signs of defect or disease were found, according to the medical examiner.
Garcia-Rivera is scheduled to appear Nov. 20 in Benton County Circuit Court.