BATESVILLE, Ark. – A nearly two-month long investigation into a Batesville baby’s death ended with the mother’s arrest Tuesday.
According to an affidavit, 29-year-old Rebecca Mae Cox is now facing charges of manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a minor, after she said she found her three-month-old son, Elijah, unresponsive in his crib Dec. 13.
The day after the infant’s death, Cox’s ex-husband and his fiancé called police, saying they spoke with her the night before about Elijah and his twin brother.
The affidavit states Cox told them she “couldn’t stand baby Elijah” and she “didn’t have a connection with him.”
Before she hung up the phone, Cox told them, “Something is going to change tonight,” and it did.
“With the environment and the drug use, I think that’s huge factors in this case,” said Kyle Williford, an investigator with the Batesville Police Department.
The affidavit painted a clear picture of the infants’ gruesome living conditions in the care of Cox and their father, Michael Goodman.
It stated, “Roaches were observed crawling on the floor, table, appliances, furnishings, countertops and high chairs.”
“One can only imagine what it’s like being in a place with that many roaches,” Williford said. “That’s pretty nasty stuff.”
Family and friends stated during police interviews they “noticed babies hadn’t had bath in a long time and the bottles were nasty.”
Goodman’s mother told police she “did not feel that Rebecca treated the babies like a mother should.”
The affidavit stated Cox and Goodman would also toss the babies to each other.
“I think the main thing in this case is the drug use,” Williford said.
Family friends told police they felt drugs were involved in Elijah’s death.
The affidavit listed the following accounts about Cox and the babies’ father: they “used drugs heavily and appeared to be high around the babies at times,” they “used all of their money on drugs,” and “the babies were not safe because of all the people in the house.”
Investigator Williford said this atmosphere led to Elijah’s death, while in Cox’s care.
“There didn’t seem to be much remorse there,” Williford said. “Her demeanor wasn’t what you’d expect mothers to be like that had just lost a child.”
The night before the infant’s death, Cox said she placed both babies face down on their stomachs in the same crib, and when she woke up, she noticed Elijah was not breathing.
“She said when she picked him up, she noticed cockroaches crawling out of his mouth,” Williford said. “She also noticed cockroaches on his body.”
Cox stated the house was “not safe for any kid.”
She also admitted to using meth daily for the three weeks prior to her son’s death and the night he died.
“She admitted that she knew she was wrong,” Williford said. “She admitted that drugs were bad.”
According to the affidavit, Cox and Goodman tested positive for meth.
While Elijah’s twin brother is in the custody of the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services and Goodman is behind bars for violating parole, Investigator Williford’s attention turned to tracking down Cox.
However, she made that easy, showing up to the police department Tuesday, only hours after the charges were filed.
“I don’t know why she showed up here,” Williford said. “It was odd.”
But something sent her there and now she, too, is behind bars.
Fox 16 News spoke briefly with Goodman’s mother who said, “I can forgive her, but I can’t forget.”
According to the autopsy report, the medical examiner said the cause and manner of Elijah’s death was undetermined, noting his health issues, the parents’ behavior and the possible “unsuitability of the home” were complicating factors.
Investigator Williford said this case is an example of how important it is for people, like Cox’s ex-husband and his fiancé, to speak up before something tragic like this happens.
“The people who had knowledge of it, that’s on their shoulders,” Williford said. “Somebody could have said something beforehand and possibly the outcome of this could have been different.”
Williford wanted to remind the community to contact DHS or give an anonymous tip to the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division.
“It never hurts to speak up, to say something because we always look into stuff like that,” he said.