Baby Found 'Dropped' In Tunnel Died From Hypothermia, Mother Charged With Murder

A New York mother was arrested and charged with murder on Monday in connection with the death of her missing 11-month-old daughter, who was discovered inside a “utility tunnel,” Schenectady officials announced at a press conference.

Persia Nelson, 24, was charged with second-degree murder committed with depraved indifference, less than 24 hours after her daughter, Halo Branton, was reported missing.

Speaking at the press conference, Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford told reporters that they received a call from security at a General Electric facility on Saturday night at around 11 p.m. describing a “female trespasser” who said she was unsure how she got there.

Eleven-month-old Halo R. Branton via Schenectady Police Department.
Eleven-month-old Halo R. Branton via Schenectady Police Department. Schenectady Police Department

The alleged trespasser was identified as Nelson. She initially told security that she lost her child, Cliffords said. Police began searching for Halo, but were unable to immediately locate her that night.

Police issued an Amber Alert on Sunday morning after concerns grew that Halo had possibly been abducted. According to Clifford, authorities found the missing girl unresponsive later that day “inside a utility tunnel structure” at the same General Electric facility where security found Nelson.

“The baby was dropped into this utility tunnel from the height of about eight feet to the bottom of the tunnel, where there was standing water,” Schenectady County District Attorney Robert M. Carney said, adding that Halo did not drown and the water only reached up to her neck.

Halo was immediately taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead, Clifford told reporters. According to Carney, an autopsy revealed that Halo died from “exposure and hypothermia.”

Nelson was later located at the General Electric security building, Carney said.

Speaking at Nelson’s arraignment on Monday, prosecutor Matthew Nobles told the court she has another child in a separate county whom she does not have custody of, local newspaper Daily Gazette reported.

According to online court records, Nelson pleaded not guilty. The Schenectady Public Defender’s Office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.