COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — In a first for the child abuse unit with the Columbus Division of Police, a mother is blaming postpartum depression for the ongoing abuse of her five-month-old baby.
Detectives were called to Nationwide Children's Hospital Christmas weekend due to skull fractures on the newborn, fractured eye socket, bleeding on the brain and internal injuries to the baby's liver. Police say the mother, Mariah Lee, admitted to hitting the baby on the head, face, and stomach up to 20 times since her daughter was born.
"When the child cries, instead of giving the child comfort she would become frustrated and angry," said Sgt. John Hurst with CPD. "With a five-month-old, it's pretty significant when we see this injury occur. It could be life-threatening."
Police said Lee had diagnosed herself with postpartum depression which is what she said triggered her actions. She also said she was reacting to her daughter's "hatred" toward her and her boyfriend showing their baby more affection than what he showed Lee.
While not naming him, ABC 6/FOX 28 spoke with Lee's boyfriend by phone who did not appear at her court arraignment on her charges of child endangering and felonious assault Friday. That boyfriend said he had been taking Lee to a "mental therapist" due to her depression. However, he is not supporting Lee as he said, "She almost killed our daughter."
When asked if he's noticed any previous injuries on the baby, Lee's boyfriend said, "I did but I asked her about it. She pretty much told me that she fell or tumbled and I watched her tumble and fall before on her own and so did the social worker."
He said he cannot see his daughter who remains in the hospital until late next month due to an ongoing investigation by Franklin County Children Services.
Lee was scheduled to be released from jail Friday after given a recognizance bond. If convicted, she could spend more than 20 years in prison. She told the judge she would be staying with her father upon her weekend release.