An Indiana mother has been charged in connection with the death of her 2-year-old son after she told police she got so drunk she lost track of him. The toddler was found dead in her car on Wednesday afternoon.
Britni N. Wihebrink, 28, from Daleville, was arrested on Thursday on charges of neglect of a dependent causing death, according to the Muncie Star Press.
Daleville’s town marshal James King said the death of the toddler, named Jaxon Stults, was almost certainly caused by being in a hot car with very high temperatures, and he might have been in there for hours.
“Any child that’s locked in a vehicle in 90-degree weather for a certain amount of time, the heat is going to be a factor,” he told the Star Press.
The exact details as to how the child got into the car aren't clear, but Wihebrink admitted to police she had been drinking since at least 11 a.m. on Wednesday, to help with a hangover from the night before, according to a police report.
She said she had “two wine coolers and three or four Jim Beam ‘honey shooters,’ according to the report, and might have had more drinks later.
She told a Delaware County sheriff’s investigator that she couldn't account for where Jaxon was after 1 or 2 in the afternoon, according to The Herald Bulletin. She also said she had “a really good buzz and has a bad drinking problem," according to the report.
When investigators searched her apartment and purse, according to the report, they found seven empty 50-ml bottles of Jim Beam.
A friend of Wihebrink's told authorities that he went to her apartment around 11 a.m. and took her keys because she was already drunk. He said he left her apartment around noon, according to the report.
Wihebrink said she took a nap when her friend left, around 1 or 2 p.m., and she thought her son was in bed with her. She thinks she might have gotten out of bed around 3 p.m., just for a second, to let an older child in from school.
When she got out of bed around 6:20 p.m., the report said, she told authorities she couldn't find her younger son.
She said her friend's son found Jaxon “lying on the back floorboard of Wihebrink’s car.” She also told authorities a conflicting story: that she found the child herself and carried him inside of the apartment.
The friend told police Jaxon was very "hot and stiff when he went to pick him up."
In her 911 call, Wihebrink said, "My child was just found in my car and I don’t know how long he’s been in there. ... I took a nap, and I woke up and he was in the car,” according to the Muncie Star Press.
Local authorities are conducting a joint investigation into the matter.
"The investigation is ongoing and is nowhere near complete," Chief Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said in a news release, according to the Star Press. "In the coming days, the prosecutor's office will review the facts and the evidence and determine what criminal charges may be filed."
Wihebrink faces up to 40 years in prison under her current charges. She was ordered to be held without bond on Thursday.
[Photo: Daleville Police Department]