Police: Baby dies during parents' binge on crack


Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 12:05 a.m.
BOCA RATON - A month-old baby died while his parents were on a three-day crack cocaine binge that began after Thanksgiving dinner, police said.
Sonia Thomas, 39, and Neal Anthony Bryan, 46, have been charged with child neglect and other charges could be filed after a cause of death is determined, Boca Raton police spokesman Jeff Kelly said Tuesday.
The couple called 911 about 4 p.m. Saturday after Bryan awoke to find his son on the bed next to him, not wearing a diaper and not breathing, according to a police report.
Thomas told investigators the baby was blue and she could tell he was dead. She ran to the kitchen and sprinkled water on him in an attempt to "get him back," the report said. He was soon pronounced dead at a hospital. Police and state Department of Children & Families officials, who are also investigating the death, refused to release the baby's name Tuesday, saying it's DCF policy not to release the names of possible child abuse victims.
Thomas, who told authorities that she was a former addict who had been drug-free for three years, and Bryan gave police conflicting stories. Each claimed to have cared for the baby before admitting that they smoked about $500 worth of crack cocaine over three days, police reports show.
Thomas said Bryan gave the infant a bath at 9 a.m. Saturday, and that she fed and changed him, and then Bryan carried him into the bedroom. Bryan said he put the infant in his crib in the bedroom and continued to smoke crack in the living room before returning to the room to sleep. Bryan said he didn't put the baby on the bed with him and said he didn't know how the baby got there.
Thomas said she could not remember when she had last fed the baby because "she was messed up on crack" and was tired from only sleeping four or five hours over three days, the report said.
Neighbor Jim Rookey, 47, said he ran up to the couple's third-floor apartment after hearing Thomas screaming on Saturday afternoon and found her cradling the baby. A physician's assistant, Rookey took the baby and began performing CPR. He told Bryan to call 911.
"I knew at that point that the baby was dead," Rookey said. "But I didn't want to say anything. I don't know how long the baby had been down, but I could tell it had been a while because his body had stiffened up."
Thomas is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bail. Bryan is in jail on $10,000 bail, but if released, he would be placed on house arrest. Information on whether they had retained attorneys was not available on Tuesday.
A DCF spokeswoman said the agency has had no prior dealings with the family.

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