2 BABY GIRLS, MILEY AND MACEY EDWARDS-GUST, LEFT IN A ROOM WHERE TEMPERATURES DROPPED TO -30’C, 3-YEAR OLD DIES, 1-YEAR OLD LISTED IN CRITICAL CONDITION – UPDATED 02.02.2014 – CCA0043
2 BABY GIRLS, MILEY AND MACEY EDWARDS-GUST, LEFT IN A ROOM WHERE TEMPERATURES DROPPED TO -30’C, 3 YEAR OLD DIES, 1 YEAR OLD LISTED IN CRITICAL CONDITION
Two baby girls in Alaska, 3 and 1 were left in a room, naked and without bedding, where temperatures dropped to below 30 degrees Celsius below zero. The 3-year old died and there is an autopsy scheduled to determine the exact cause of death, while the 1 year-old remains in the hospital.
The girls’ mother, Esther Edwards-Gust, 28, is an Elementary school teacher on Barrow, Alaska where the family lived. Edwards-Gust works days and her live-in boyfriend, Richard Tilden Jr., 28, watches the children while she is working. Edward-Gust reportedly told police that the girls were clothed and sleeping before she left for work that morning, but her story is not matching Tilden’s. According to Tilden, he had begun drinking heavily the night before and woke up shortly after noon. She alleges that he went to check on the girls and found they had both urinated and defecated on their bed. When he picked the girls up, they were ice cold and the 3-year old was not breathing.Here is where I start having MAJOR problems with the validity of this story. I live in an area that regularly hits -30 to -40’C this time of year, and I know firsthand just how damn cold that is. There is no way someone can walk into a room where the temperatures are so low and not notice, let alone not realizing the trouble the girls were in until touching them. When frost bite sets in, and this is FAR before hypothermia settles in, it is a burning sensation, much like touching your skin to a hot element. Make no mistake – these little girls suffered horrifically as they lay in their room dying. They did not simply fall asleep and succumb to the freezing temperatures, I imagine they would have made quite a fuss trying to get out of the room that would have eventually been enough to wake the dead.
Tilden claims that when he realized the 3-year old was not breathing he called 911. When the police arrived at the scene, what they found painted a much more horrendous picture than they could have imagined. When medics and North Slope Borough police responded to the 911 call, they found both little girls naked and blue, the 3-year old having no pulse and the 1-year old having bruises and dried blood around her mouth – hypothermia will not make you bleed from your mouth. Tilden smelled strongly of alcohol and police noticed two empty whiskey bottles. The girls were transported to Barrow hospital where police and emergency responders worked together for three hours to raise the 3-year old’s temperature while performing CPR until her heart would beat on its own. The girls were then quickly airlifted to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. After a more thorough check of the 3-year old girl, it appears that she suffered a beating before being exposed to the freezing temperatures. Sadly, the 3-year old succumbed to her injuries the next morning and died. The 1-year old baby girl suffered extreme hypothermia along with the beating, but has survived the neglect and suspected abuse. She is listed in critical condition.
Another very scary bit of information is that Tilden’s three sons were also in the house at the same time, however no mention has been made to their condition.
Investigation of the home showed that the girls were unable to open the door to escape the room as the latch had been altered. These beautiful little girls were essentially tortured by the sub-zero temperatures. There was no bedding in the room for the girls. Considering this and the blood found on the baby girl, Barrow police charged Edwards-Gust and Tilden with two second-degree felony assaults. Edwards-Gust was released from jail after her arrest, while Tilden remains in the Barrow jail on $100,000.00 bond bail. One of the charges against Tilden was later upgraded first-degree assault. Assistant District Attorney Earl Peterson said the district attorney’s office has not yet ruled out additional changes to the charges as new information becomes available. Edwards-Gust’s charges have not changed.
Tilden spent the entire day with police going over his statement, at the end of the day, police reported his blood alcohol level was .164, twice the legal limit. Tilden alleges he opened the window to air out the girls’ room because they wet their bed regularly. (Seriously??? – there is no way he would not have known the danger this posed to the girls, especially with the knowledge that they could not leave the room.)
It’s no surprise that Tilden has a rather lengthy list of prior charges and convictions for alcohol-related crimes, including domestic assault against his late wife, Michelene who died last summer. In 2006, Michelene had filed for a domestic violence restraining order against Tilden.
Edwards-Gust also has a sentence suspended for a charge of driving under the influence from December.
We will keep this case updated as new developments are released.
APRIL 2012 – The girls’ names have been released. Miley, 3, sadly died after being locked in her room in below freezing temperatures by her mother as punishment for wetting the bed. A far cry from Edwards-Gust’s original story. Also locked in the room was Miley’s younger sister, Macey, 1, who survived the abuse but was in critical condition. The girls’ older sister, Sasha, was not in the home and her whereabouts are currently unknown.
Esther Edwards-Gust and Richard Tilden Jr. are charged with criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and second degree assault. Tilden faces additional charges of second degree murder, manslaughter and first degree assault. After the indictment was handed down for Edwards-Gust, she allegedly went on the run.
Richard Tilden Jr, was sentenced to 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault. The sentence caused a stir in the community, and many protested the sentence saying it was not nearly enough. Protester Stefanie Lozano said “People that have caught a walrus or a polar bear off-season or inappropriately get more time than this guy did.”
As for Edwards-Gust, she is currently in police custody and awaiting her trial.