INDIANAPOLIS – Several neighbors at Meadowlark Apartments, on the northeast side of Indianapolis, said they wished they had reported warning signs before a 3-month-old boy’s COVID-related death back in November.
Madelissa Flores, 26, is charged with neglect of a relative, which resulted in catastrophic injury in connection with the death of her 3-month-old son on November 28th. An autopsy showed the baby died of COVID-19 complications that were so severe that his lungs were bleeding. The child also had bone fractures, which are common in cases where a child has been severely shaken or severely treated.
After the baby’s death, investigators determined that Flores would routinely leave her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter in their apartment to care for the baby while Flores went out and socialized for hours. Court documents say Flores told investigators she knew her baby was sick and never sought medical attention for the infant. Instead, she said, “she wanted to treat it naturally before she went to any doctor.”
Police found that the apartment had neither food nor electricity and was infected with rodents.
Legal documents also state that Flores told police she had left the children unattended “to go to a friend’s house because she is a single mother who is under a lot of stress and needed to talk to someone and did not have someone available to see her children while she was away. “
However, one woman who claims to be the child’s godmother said there were plenty of people in the apartment building who were willing to look after the baby.
“She said she did not have people to see them, but everyone would offer to see the child,” the woman said. “And she would not allow it. She leaves him in the house with the little boy and the little girl.”
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was there for the boy’s birth. After a while, though, Flores would not allow her to come and visit the baby.
“All the times I used to ask her to see him, she would not let me see him,” she said. “She would come up with excuses like ‘Oh, he’s here, he’s there, he’s not here’.”
“It makes me angry because I do not think the little boy and the little girl understand what their mother was doing,” she continued.
Juan Robertson, who lives a few doors down from the Flores apartment, said he saw “red flags” that something was not right, but was not aware of how dangerous the situation had become.
“I saw her leave her children,” he said. “I wanted to see the little boy in there with the baby for himself. He had come to the door and the door would swing open, you would see the baby in there.”
Robertson said his own son used to play with Flores’ 9-year-old son. However, it stopped after the baby was born.
“He was a good boy,” Robertson said. “He was playful, he ran around the apartments. He was a child until the point he was made to try to be an adult.”
Police also discovered that there were several complaints in 2020 and 2021 to the Department of Child Services alleging that Flores “left the children at home for hours at a time while engaged in leisure activities” and that the 9-year-old “had often tasked with taking care of “the baby. The complainants also claimed that all three siblings shared a bed, that the children often went to neighbors’ houses to get food, and that the children did not go to school.
In hindsight, Robertson wishes he would have acknowledged the situation for what it was and called for help.
“I just never saw it coming,” he said. “She had just had that baby, I just saw it not coming.”
Child advocates say you should never be shy about calling the state Hotline for child abuse and neglect at 1-800-800-5556 or 911 if it is urgent.
Agencies like Prevent Child Abuse Indiana can also offer help to parents who are overwhelmed and in need of support. You can also connect to these resources by calling 211.
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