The mom has an "extensive" history with child protective services, prosecutors allege

By Elaine Aradillas
August 09, 2016 11:40 AM
Mount Vernon Police Department

The mother of a 15-month-old has been accused of manslaughter after the girl’s “unnaturally cold” dead body was discovered last week, officials tell PEOPLE.

De’asia Bartee was arraigned Monday on one count of first-degree manslaughter, officials said. She was arrested and charged after her daughter, Samia Yusef, was found dead in their Mount Vernon, New York, home.

On Friday, Yusef’s aunt called 911. When an officer from the Mount Vernon Police Department arrived, he discovered an “extremely cold” Yusef, officials said.

“One of our veteran police officers found the toddler in her crib and noticed she was unusually and unnaturally cold,” Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas tells PEOPLE.

Authorities believe Yusef was “possibly placed inside a freezer” before police discovered her, spokeswoman Maria Zambrana says.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

The medical examiner has not determined Yusef’s cause of death, officials said, but she did suffer trauma to the side of her face.

“Based on injuries sustained, there are things that don’t add up,” Thomas says.

Prosecutors said Bartee has an “extensive” history with child protective services, according to The Journal News, and that in this case, in an attempt to stop her daughter from crying, she allegedly began striking her, causing the girl’s injuries.

Bartee’s bond was set at $50,000. She did not enter a plea at her Monday arraignment and attempts to reach her attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County were unsuccessful.

A legal aid attorney representing her Monday said in court that Bartee, who was teary-eyed, had no criminal record, according to the Journal News. One person who knew her told the paper she was a “good, active mom, adding:

“I’ve never seen her violent with her kids. I don’t know what could have happened.”

Bartee is expected to return to court on Aug. 17.