ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - On October 10, 4-year-old Amber Mosier of St. Joseph, Mo., died from an airway obstruction in her feeding tube.
St. Joseph police said Amber had cerebral palsy. Her mother, 21-year-old Alexandra Schurr, left her unattended for more than 20 hours.
When neglect and abuse cases like this occur, family crimes investigators like Jennifer Protzman step in to figure out how and why a child has died.
"The reason we're there, is for the child, and we do investigate incidents that do turn out to be accidental, or no intentional harm, but we have had a lot of incidents where we have to investigate the potential of abuse and neglect, or child endangerment situations," Detective Sargeant Protzman said.
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Four St. Joseph investigators each work on about 20 cases of child neglect and abuse every month.
Amber is now the ninth child death the department has investigated in the past two years.
"They're more difficult to investigate, because especially if you have a child death, you don't have anyone there, and if you have a young child, you can't articulate what's happened," Protzman said.
Because of the difficulty of investigating crimes involving children, the department heavily relies on information from others. They urge anyone who witnesses neglect or abuse to always report it.
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"It's very important, because you don't want it to be on your shoulders, if you knew something was going on, or you saw something going on and you didn't make that call, and there was an unfortunate situation, where the child ended up dead," Protzman said.
If you suspect neglect or abuse, call police, or the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-3738.