Deaths of two young children under investigation; one woman charged today with murder

This is the kind of cases that even seasoned detectives dread investigating: the death of a child, allegedly at the hands of another, especially if the suspect is the child’s parent or caregiver.

Livermore police are investigating two such cases, and the children, a girl and boy, involved are young–very young–from two years to two months.

Police arrested a 54-year-old woman in connection with the grave injuries inflicted on a 23-month-old girl, who has been declared brain dead, the Contra Costa Times reports. The woman, Mary Katherine Downing, is engaged to the girl’s grandfather, who is the primary caregiver. Prosecutors today charged Downing with attempted murder and assault on a child, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

The toddler is on life support at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, and Downing eventually admitted to inflicting severe abuse on her.

Police told the the San Francisco Chronicle that Downing called police to her home, in the 2100 block of Percheron Road, shortly after midnight Saturday to say the girl was “unresponsive.” The Chronicle said: “The girl was taken to Children’s Hospital Oakland, where she was pronounced brain-dead. She is expected to be taken off life support by tonight.”

A 5-year-old boy who also lived at the home has been taken into custody by Child Protective Services, the Times said.

In a separate case, a 2-month-old boy was found unconscious last Thursday, March 19, in a Livermore home and later died at a Pleasanton hospital. The cause of his death has not been determined, but police told the Times that “the mother may have exposed her child to a situation that led to his death.” Police arrested his mother, Jessica Adams, 24, on a parole violation for allegedly being under the influence of drugs, the Chronicle said.

Livermore police Lt. Matt Sarsfield told the Chronicle that such cases are stressful for officers. “We all have families.”

5 thoughts on “Deaths of two young children under investigation; one woman charged today with murder

  1. I fight every day for the life of my children (Katie Grace and Savanha) We gave up our whole lives. We love our children and others with all our heart. I can never imagine the heart of a parent or care giver that can possibly harm a child. These people are truly the LOWEST life. My heart bleeds for the children that this happened to and any child that lives with this kind of life. A child should feel safe in any place they live. Many people think we are strange. Our children know that there is NOTHING in this life that is more important to us then them. That is the way all children should live. I am so sad about these things. Whats worse is some one will fight for the rights of those MONSTERS.


  2. Where would you be without newspapers, Soccer Mama? Can you help them stay alive? Ideas for how bloggers like you can do this?This aside, gut-wrenching stories from the Chron and CocoTimes. Horrifying.


  3. I could not be a cop, not becuase I am unwilling, but because in cases like this I would immediatley shoot and kill the person that did this to these children.I hope they did not suffer long.


  4. Dear Anon 3:28: As much as I sometimes gripe about the Times, I very much want the Times and the Chronicle to stay in business–and not just so I can steal stories–but because we need them to report these kinds of stories, and a part-timer like me just can’t get to every story I wish I could be reporting. I’ve said in the past that I want these papers to stay in business, even if not in a print form. These stories are horrific. And a lot of people might NOT want to read them, but we all have a responsibility to stay informed about the welfare of the most vulnerable in our community–young children who may be in the care of people who shouldn’t be looking after kids, much less going near them. And the mom of the 2-month-old. So far, that’s labeled suspicious not a homicide, but that mom might have needed some serious intervention, if she was dealing with a drug abuse problem and looking after a newborn.


  5. I am not a death penalty supporter, but at times like this I feel like I could switch.I just don’t understand how anyone could do this. At some point the aggressor must realize that (s)he is at the point of mortally injuring a child. momgroeb,I think that we all agree that children are entitled to be safe and well-cared for. My mother was young during the Great Depression. They had little food so the youngest in the house at first and oldest ate last. My mom was the oldest of three daughters, so she ate after her sisters and before her mother. I was raised with that kind of sacrificing for your children attitude.While I agree that the woman may be a monster, our constitution guarantees our right to adequate legal counsel and a fair trial. We may hate the woman, but we all need to respect her constitutional rights. If hers aren’t protected then we’re all at risk. Can you say ‘slippery slope?’


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