Mother arrested, police search for boyfriend in toddler’s death

Local News

A Fort Wayne mother has been arrested the same day officials determined her daughter’s January death was a homicide. Now, police are searching for the mother’s boyfriend as a “person of interest.”

The Allen County Coroner’s Office said on Friday that two-year-old Jocelyn Dawn Rana Belcher died from lack of oxygen due to compression of the neck. Her death is officially a homicide.

Fort Wayne police and emergency crews were called to a home in the 200 block of East Butler Street at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 27 where Belcher was found. 

The coroner’s office initially was unable to determine how the little girl died.

However Friday’s press release from the coroner’s office indicated the determination was made after a complete autopsy and information from the police investigation.

After the ruling, NewsChannel 15 learned that young Jocelyn’s mother – Crystal M. Belcher – was arrested Thursday on a felony charge of Neglect of a Dependent.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday, police said Belcher initially told police she called her daughter down to breakfast around 11 a.m. that morning. When she didn’t come down, Belcher told police she went to check on her and found her wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the crib, the affidavit said.

Belcher said then that she pulled the blanket away “and she was blue,” the affidavit said. She told police she was “barely breathing.”

A medic noted that the toddler was cold to the touch and rigor mortis had set in in her arms and legs, according to the affidavit.

As police investigated, a search of the home found it “in various stages of disarray,” with dirty dishes stacked up, animal feces on the floors and piles of dirty clothes. Two dogs, two cats and a raccoon were taken out of the home, the affidavit said.

An autopsy on young Jocelyn found that she died of a compression of the neck. A doctor noted in the affidavit that injuries found on her neck and mouth were consistent with a hand over her mouth and neck, and he did not believe that “swaddling alone would have caused the asphyxiation as a child of that age wrapped or swaddled in a blanket was unlikely to be unable to free itself from the situation.”

Police noted that Belcher never mentioned the injuries to her daughter to police.

Police are also searching for Shane Allen Patton, the 30-year-old boyfriend of Belcher who was tasked normally with swaddling the child. Patton has been identified as a person of interest.

Patton is described as a white man, 5-feet-9 and 200 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 427-1222.

NewsChannel 15 is working to learn more details of the ongoing investigation by police, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office and the coroner’s office.

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