Mother charged in starvation death of baby

January 3, 2011 10:10:12 AM PST
The mother of a 2-month-old boy who died of starvation and dehydration at a West Philadelphia homeless shelter has been charged with murder and endangering the welfare of a child.

Police say 32-year-old Tanya Williams was charged Friday night in the death of Quasir Alexander two days before Christmas in the Traveler's Aid Shelter in West Philadelphia.

Lt. Raymond Evers says the baby had been living with his mother, a twin and other siblings at the shelter, which houses about 75 families.

Lutheran Children and Family Service, which runs the shelter, calls the death tragic and says it "has saddened us deeply." Executive director Richard Gitlen says the organization had been providing the mother "short-term voluntary services" until Dec. 21. He said the group is investigating.

Williams remained in custody and it was unclear whether she had an attorney.

Quasir Alexander was found dead just before 6:00 a.m. on December 23rd.

Investigators tell Action News the child died two days after caseworkers, working for an agency under contract to DHS, visited the child and his mother and reported everything was OK.

A source close to the investigation says the family was known to DHS and was receiving services from a contractor under contract to DHS, but there was no open investigation of neglect or abuse.

DHS came under scathing scrutiny after the death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly who also was under the care of a service provider who, as it turns out, was falsifying paperwork to indicate home visits that were never made.

Kelly's starved body was found August 4, 2006.

DHS' new commissioner , Anne Marie Ambrose, vowed to put in sweeping changes to prevent these things from happening again.

A spokesperson for DHS said last week that Commissioner Ambrose is outraged and the case is under investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.