Authorities in northern Alaska are hunting a young mother who they said went on the run after being charged with locking her 3-year-old daughter in a bedroom overnight with a window left open to sub-zero temperatures, causing the child to freeze to death.
Esther G. Edwards-Gust, 28, and her boyfriend, Richard Tilden Jr., 29, left a window open in the bedroom the tot shared with her 1-year-old sister on Feb. 1 because the girls wet their beds and the couple wanted to air the room out, investigators said.
The couple lived in Barrow, a Inupiat Eskimo community and one of the northernmost cities in the U.S., where police say overnight temperatures dropped to 30 below zero.
The next morning, Tilden found the older girl unconscious with no pulse and called police. Both girls were naked, cold and blue when officers arrived at the apartment, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Officers also said the bedroom's door handle was missing, making it impossible for the girls to get out, and that Tilden looked haggard and reeked of booze.
The sisters were flown to a hospital in Anchorage, where the older girl died two days later from severe hypothermia, the newspaper said.
The younger sister survived the ordeal and is recovering, the newspaper reported.
Tilden was arrested on Feb. 2, and admitted to opening the window in the girls' room when he put them to bed.
He then drank two bottles of bootleg whiskey and passed out at around 2 a.m. before waking up and finding the frozen girls at a 12:30 p.m. the next day.
The day of his arrest, his blood-alcohol level was 0.16, more than twice the legal driving limit, The Associated Press reported.
Edwards-Gust, who teaches elementary school, was also arrested last month, but she was eventually freed at the request of the Barrow district attorney, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
On Friday, both were indicted in Anchorage with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide and assault, and Tilden was also facing second-degree murder and assault charges, AP reported.
Tilden was in police custody, and authorities said Saturday that a warrant has been issued for Edwards-Gust’s arrest.
It wasn’t clear when she left Anchorage, but police believe she was headed back to Barrow.