tampabay.com

Pressured to work, mom left kids in car

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 5, 2007


HANAHAN, S.C. - Sametta Heyward was in a bind. The single mother was scheduled to start a double shift at 3 p.m. and her babysitter had just canceled.

"She was either told to come to work or be fired or she was afraid to call in sick - one of those things," said police Lt. Michael Fowler.

She made it to her job at a county-run group home July 29, a typically warm summer day. After eight hours she called a supervisor and said she had to leave because of child-care issues.

According to her employer, she didn't tell the supervisor or a co-worker that for all that time, she had left her 1-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son in her Chevy Cavalier hatchback, parked on a residential street.

She had left Triniti and Shawn with battery-powered fans, food and drinks, but it was not nearly enough to combat the sweltering conditions inside. She told relatives that when she got to the car at 11:30 p.m., they were unconscious and had weak pulses.

A day later, police found her at her apartment wailing, "Oh, my babies!"

Officers said in a police report that she tried to kick and bite them and asked them to kill her. The bodies of the children, bathed and dressed, were found wrapped in trash bags and stuffed under the sink.

Heyward, 27, was charged with two counts of homicide by child abuse. A funeral for the children was held Saturday.

Lab tests are pending that could help determine whether the children died in the stifling car or sometime after their mother rushed their limp bodies back to their tiny apartment.