Police say mother, family members lied in drowning
BATON ROUGE - Detectives said the mother of a 4-year-old Baton Rouge boy lied to them during their investigation into his disappearance and had let him play unsupervised for hours, where he fell into a hole and drowned.
Investigators charged Brittni Clark with negligent homicide Tuesday in the death of her son, Jassiah Clark. She reported him missing Dec. 20 and authorities found his body in a water-filled hole after an intense two-day search effort.
Police said Clark initially told them the last time she saw her son was around 6 p.m. when an 11-year-old neighbor came by and him to play outside. When she realized he was missing family members said they searched for him for hours before notifying police around 10 p.m. Family members also told police that Brittni Clark, her sister's boyfriend, and Jassiah Clark were the only people home that afternoon.
Detectives said they determined much of the story they were told was a lie. They claim Brittni Clark was watching a movie with her boyfriend when she heard children playing outside around 5 p.m. and let her son go out and play with them, unsupervised. Police said she never checked on him until her sister came home around 8 p.m. and asked where Jassiah was. Officers said Clark checked with the neighbors and found out Jassiah had never been there. The neighbors told police they had not been home all day.
Detectives also said in Clark's arrest affidavit that witnesses told them she had a substance abuse problem. Investigators said they retrieved text messages from Clark which showed her asking for "bars" or "sticks" on Dec. 19 and 20, which police said were slang for illegal narcotics. Detectives also said a neighbor told them it wasn't unusual for Jassiah Clark to show up by himself at their home and stay there for days at a time.
Police said they chose to charge Clark with negligent homicide because she demonstrated a "gross deviation" from what's expected of a child's caregiver, which led to her son's death.
An autopsy found Jassiah Clark died from drowning and hypothermia. The Department of Public Works said the hole he fell into was connected to a decommissioned sewage pump station, and that the hole had been filled in and covered but heavy rain caused it to wash out and be filled with water.