I’ve investigated a lot of child murders over the years, including the murder of infants. The problem comes when the child is passively suffocated. It leaves no physiological signs, and in 1979, (and still sometimes today) is lumped into the SIDS category.
What people don’t understand about SIDS is it’s not a disease that can be diagnosed with tests or physical signs. It’s the result of a lack of a finding. Often times it becomes a catch-all dumping ground for infant death.
Most cases that are ruled as SIDS are the result of accidental suffocation, where the child is overlaid by an adult, or stuck between a mattress and a wall or other object. It’s clear from the scene investigation. Some pathologists don’t want parents to blame themselves and rule SIDS to spare them that blame.
The problem is, people are then in fear that this “boogey man” named SIDS will take their child, when instead, it should foster education about safe sleep practices for new parents.
When there is no sign of accidental suffocation, the detective must do a thorough investigation to find out what happened.
Several years ago, a nine-month-old baby died in a flea-bag motel in Seattle, where she was under the care of her “father”. (He ended up not being her father). We didn’t respond to dead baby cases then unless homicide was suspected. Seattle PD goes to all now, regardless of the apparent cause.
The first red flag was the age of the baby. Nine-month-old children can roll, turn their head, etc. They’re generally to old too be ruled SIDS, but that’s what happened in this case.
The “father” was a transient, so it took me several months to find him.
I brought him in for an interview where he confessed to suffocating the little girl.
He pled guilty.
Here’s a link to the story of the 1979 case here.