Independence parents charged after malnourished 10-week-old dies

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Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 7:09 PM CST
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) - A mother and father have been charged after their 10-week-old, who was born at home, died from malnutrition.

According to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, 19-year-old Austen M. Taub Hack and 20-year-old Sarah Stone have been charged with felony abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.

Their mugshots are not currently available from the Jackson County Detention Center.

According to court records, Independence police went to an apartment in the 4000 block of S. Cedar Crest Drive at 1:15 p.m. on Monday after receiving a call about an unresponsive child.

When they arrived, they found a 10-week-old who was not breathing and was cold. A paramedic declared the child deceased.

Detectives saw that the child was “extremely malnourished and emaciated,” with the child’s ribs and collarbone protruding through the skin.

The medical examiner subsequently advised that the child suffered from severe malnutrition and dehydration.

Hack and Stone told the authorities that Stone had delivered the baby at their residence in August. There were no medical personnel there, nor had the child seen medical personnel after being born.

In addition, Hack said that the child had only been breastfed and had never been given a bottle.

The parents said they’d last seen their child alive at 11:30 a.m. When they went into the child’s bedroom later that afternoon, the child was not breathing. Hack used Stone’s phone to look up directions for performing CPR on an infant. Hack said he then performed CPR until first responders arrived and took over.

The authorities got a search warrant that same day and searched the apartment. They found drug paraphernalia with trace amounts of marijuana, a small amount of “dab” in Hack’s room, and a clear plastic tote with “what appeared to be a grow operation of illegal narcotic hallucinogenic mushrooms.”

In an interview, Hack told detectives that he had bathed the child several times during the week prior and that he didn’t feel anything was wrong with the child. He also said the child was “never sick once.”

Hack was shown pictures of the child taken during the medical examiner’s evaluation. When asked if the child looked normal, he said “no.” He said that he “didn’t do it” and “no one did it.” When asked who was responsible for feedings, he first stated that Stone was. Then, he admitted that he was also responsible for making sure the child was fed.

Furthermore, Hack said that they didn’t allow anyone to come over to their apartment and help care for the child because “everyone makes it worse.” He also said they didn’t take the child outside of the apartment because “the world is a scary place.”

Prosecutors have requested a $150,000 bond for each defendant.