Feces covered 15-month-old left unattended for 5 days near mom's body in NY homeless shelter
No one checked in on the mother and daughter until a neighbor reported a 'foul odor' coming from the apartment
A feces-covered 15-month-old baby was found huddled under a bed near her mother's corpse in a New York City homeless shelter after the mother died from accidental overdose, according to the city medical examiner’s office. Before her death, Shelbi Westlake, 26, was living with daughter Lyric Laboy in an apartment-like unit at the shelter at 325 East 104th St in East Harlem for about three or four months. It has been alleged that the baby was left unattended with her mother's body for five days before she was rescued.
As per court documents, Lyric was found "covered in human feces" and badly dehydrated, and was rushed to the hospital. The homeless shelter agency, however, has denied that the baby was left alone for five days, but didn't clarify how long she was left unattended for.
The baby's father, Quraan Laboy, 31, is planning to sue the City of New York and the Department of Homeless Services for $5 million in damages after his daughter Lyric was discovered by workers at the East River Family Center near mom's body.
Westlake last signed in at the shelter six days before her body was found, Laboy's attorney Allison Keenan told the Post. No one checked in on the mother and daughter until a neighbor reported a 'foul odor' coming from the apartment.
"Allowing an infant to remain with her dead mother for five days unnoticed not only highlights the indifference and lack of humanity shown to those most in need but exhibits complete malfeasance by the City of New York and Department of Homeless Services," said Keenan.
The incident is under investigation and the shelter is now required to conduct same-night wellness checks for any resident who hasn't signed the nightly roster, Department of Homeless Services said.
Laboy said he left his job at the New York City Housing Authority to take care of his daughter full time. He said the baby has lost seven pounds and suffered a 'horrific' diaper rash from the incident, and is still dealing with separation anxiety. “I had to drop everything. She’s my number one priority right now,” he said.
“My daughter’s gotta deal with this mentally for the rest of her life. She always wakes up in the middle of the night, she's kicking, she's fighting, saying, 'Mommy.' I look at her and I just start tearing up sometimes," he said.
Laboy's other attorney Seth Harris said while Lyric has gained all her weight back, she has still been "routinely slapping her dad while he's sleeping to make sure he's alive". "It's amazing that she's alive," said Harris.