MIAMI - The mother of a 15-month-old baby found dead in a Miami motel last year has been charged with child neglect.
Catherine White, 29, was arrested Wednesday in southwest Missouri and is being held on a $100,000 bond.
Her boyfriend, Travis Steed, 31, has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of McKenna White.
Steed's charges were amended Wednesday to include new information acquired by investigators.
According to Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant, Catherine White admitted that she knew Steed was under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol the day she left her daughter in his care.
In addition, she told investigators with the DA's office that she smoked methamphetamine with Steed before leaving the motel.
According to court records, Catherine White, 28, made a frantic 911 call at 12:53 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2006, and Miami police officers responded to her east Steve Owens Boulevard motel room. There, they found the baby laying face down in a playpen and unresponsive.
According to authorities, White and Steed entered into a relationship approximately seven months prior to the incident and were living together at White's parent's home in Goodman, Mo. Steed was staying in Miami while working on a construction crew in the area.
White told authorities that, on Feb. 22, she left her three older children, all under the age of 7, in Goodman with her parents and drove to Miami to stay with Steed, bringing her infant daughter with her. Authorities said White left the baby with Steed on Feb. 25 and drove back to Goodman to pick up her other children.
White told authorities that, while she was gone, Steed made repeated phone calls to her and was aggravated as he demanded that she drive to Arkansas to purchase methamphetamine for him.
“During the phone conversations, Catherine said she could hear McKenna crying in the background,” Miami Police Detective Todd Hicks said. “She could tell by the tone of his voice that Travis was drunk and very angry.”
White told Hicks that she arrived back at the motel room at approximately 12:30 a.m. and observed McKenna laying face down in the playpen. Assuming the infant had fallen asleep, White said she, too, went to sleep.
White said she ordered food at approximately 11:30 a.m. and asked Steed to go pick it up. She told authorities that, while Steed was gone, she decided to check on the baby because the other children's loud playing did not wake the baby up.
“When Catherine bent down to rub McKenna's back, she realized McKenna was dead,” Hicks said. “She became hysterical and called 911.”
According to the state's medical examiner, which performed an autopsy on the infant, the baby died from blunt force trauma to the head. He described a skull fracture at the back of McKenna's skull which measured more than 5 inches in length.
Steed was arrested in Benton County, Ark., on March 1, 2006, and has been held in the Ottawa County Jail awaiting trial.
Wyant said Catherine White's admission that she left her daughter with Steed, knowing he was under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol, made her partially responsible for the infant's death.