WARNING: This story contains graphic content that is not suitable for all readers
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When daylight came, the boy could not hear the baby talking to herself like she normally did.
He went to the bed littered with clothes and other objects where she slept, and there the baby was on her back – a cover over her face and milk on her mouth. She was unconscious and not breathing.
The boy called emergency dispatchers.
It would take Fort Wayne Police more than four hours to find the baby’s mother, who is now accused of spending an alcohol and drug-fueled night at a local bar and motel while leaving the baby alone in a house full of juvenile children.
Allen County Prosecutors formally charged 34-year-old Ashly Marie Townsend with one felony count of neglect of a dependent Wednesday.
The charge stems from the morning of April 17, 2021, when emergency crews were called to Townsend’s home due to her infant daughter not breathing. Medics at the scene pronounced the infant dead, according to Allen Superior Court documents, and an Indiana Department of Child Services investigation was launched into what happened.
Investigators found a baby’s crib that was too cluttered to be used as a bed, court documents said. They also found a bed where the baby had been sleeping with various clothes and other objects strewn about.
While investigators were at the home, a woman who identified herself as Townsend’s sister arrived and told them she had been out with Townsend the night before, court documents said.
She also told investigators she and Townsend stopped at the house after closing time at a bar to check on the children but then left again in separate directions.
One of the children at the home told investigators he was babysitting the other children at the home that night. He said Townsend left the home to go out after it was dark and that when she had done this in the past she usually came home right before the sun came up, according to court documents.
When he woke that morning, Townsend had not come home yet and he did not hear the baby, he told investigators. Calls to Townsend were not answered and went straight to her voicemail, according to court documents.
While police were clearing the scene just before 1 p.m., Townsend arrived at the home.
Townsend smelled of alcohol, according to court documents, and agreed to speak with detectives.
She said she left her home the night before at about midnight and last saw the infant asleep in her crib, according to court documents. She told detectives she went to a local bar and then a motel with a friend after the bar closed.
Townsend said she went to the motel to continue drinking and that she did not want this friend around her children, court documents said.
In a second interview nearly a month later, she said she did stop by at the home to peek inside and saw the baby laying on her bed, Townsend said. During this interview, she did not recall the baby’s head being uncovered but remembered objects were on the bed near her head.
Townsend also said she left her phone in her vehicle while at the motel and was not paying attention, court documents said.
An autopsy performed on the infant found she died from sudden unexplained infant death syndrome with a history of unsafe sleep, according to court documents. A drug screen the department of child services did on Townsend found she had THC and cocaine in her system.
The department of child services removed at least three children from the home, according to court documents.
A warrant has been issued for Townsend’s arrest. The Allen County Sheriff’s website said she was taken into custody on Wednesday.