A 3-year-old boy was found dead Tuesday in Forsyth County.
Deputies were called to a home in the Bridgetown subdivision about 11 a.m. after the toddler’s mother found the child unresponsive, Deputy Doug Rainwater told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Officers described the death as “suspicious.” The child’s mother’s boyfriend was supposed to be babysitting, authorities said. When deputies arrived at the home, the boyfriend was not in the home. They used dogs to find him in the woods behind the subdivision.
It was the second death of a toddler this week. Meriel Bemis, 21, faces one count of felony murder in connection with the Sunday night death of her 3-year-old daughter, DeKalb County police Capt. Steven Fore said.
In the Tuesday death, responding authorities attempted to resuscitate the boy on the way to Northside Hospital-Forsyth, he said. The child was pronounced dead at the hospital, Rainwater said.
Just before 1:45 p.m., deputies found the babysitter near the intersection of Highway 369 and Georgia 400 and took him into custody, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Authorities have not identified the boy or the man, who is only considered a person of interest.
Investigators are questioning him and the mother, Rainwater said.
People in the neighborhood where the boy and his mother lived are in disbelief.
“It is very shocking,” said Empress Ming, who has lived in the neighborhood for a decade. “I can’t believe it.”
Neighbor Sherry Vanderhoff couldn’t hold back tears, even though she didn’t know the boy.
“That doesn’t make it any easier,” she said. “I’m devastated. I have three children and I do child care. It’s very heartbreaking.”
Fliers for a prayer vigil Vanderhoff passed around the neighborhood identified the dead child as “Wyatt.” The vigil was planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the subdivision.
Also Tuesday, Bemis waived her first appearance. Another hearing has been scheduled for March 20.
Jail records show Bemis, who lives in the Landmark at Mountain View apartments near Stone Mountain, was booked into the DeKalb County Jail just before 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Police told Channel 2 Action News that the incident began with an argument between Bemis and her boyfriend that prompted him to leave. Officers said. Bemis, who lives in the Landmark at Mountain View apartments near Stone Mountain, then called him for help and he returned home.
The boyfriend called 911 about 11:30 p.m. after finding the girl lifeless when he arrived at the apartment, Channel 2 said.
The girl, Lela Bemis, was pronounced dead on arrival at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.
DeKalb County police told Channel 2 that Bemis admitted she suffocated the child because she was upset her boyfriend broke up with her.
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