Published July 22, 2009
WESTWEGO, La. – A 3-month-old suburban New Orleans girl whose body was covered with rodent bites bled to death before she was found in her crib, according to an autopsy released Wednesday.
Westwego Police Chief Dwayne Munch said Natalie Hill had severe wounds on her nose and leg along with more than 100 suspected rat bites when her parents found her body last Thursday in her crib, which was stained with bloody rodent footprints.
The cause of death was preliminary and more tests were planned, said Elizabeth Evans, an investigator for the Jefferson Parish coroner's office.
The chief said the autopsy results "tell us what we had suspected already."
"We were all hoping that we were wrong. It's just horrifying to think of the baby being bitten and all this trauma happening while she was alive," he said.
No charges have been filed, but Munch said police are still investigating.
The child's parents told police the girl was fine when her mother fed her several hours before her body was discovered. When police arrived at the house, the girl's father was in the front yard shouting that his baby was dead.
Investigators are awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests that the parents submitted to last week, the chief said.
"It's just to make sure we cover all the bases," Munch said of the tests. "If we find neglect, we'll pursue charges ... It's too early to tell right now."
Much had said earlier that the girl's parents had set traps out for rodents.
In Ohio, three people have been accused of letting rats bite a 6-week-old girl and chew off several of her toes at a cluttered mobile home. The girl was reported in fair condition at a Columbus hospital after losing the toes on one foot.