Two Alaska children were left in room open to 30-below-zero cold

Anchorage Daily NewsFebruary 9, 2012 

When police entered a Barrow apartment last week on a report of a child not breathing, they found a caregiver smelling of alcohol, two "extremely" hypothermic and naked children, and a child's bedroom with the window open to the arctic winter, according to documents filed by prosecutors

The caregiver, Richard Tilden Jr., 28, is the unemployed boyfriend of the children's mother, elementary school teacher Esther Edwards-Gust, also 28. Both are charged with two counts of felony assault.

The child who wasn't breathing, a 3-year-old, was revived in Barrow and transported with her 1-year-old sister to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

Doctors there couldn't save the older child, who died Saturday. Charging documents said the 1-year-old was in better shape than her sister; a relative said Wednesday she was awake and eating.

The charging documents, filed Friday in state District Court in Barrow and provided by the court this week, describe a scene of extreme neglect and dysfunction, though not necessarily one of physical violence as reported earlier. The 1-year-old had bruises and crusted blood around her lips and mouth and officers found clothing in the house with dried blood, but no other evidence of violence or physical force was mentioned in the charging documents.

But there were plenty of other problems. The 3 year old was cold and blue when officers of the North Slope Police Department arrived during the noon hour Thursday, according to an affidavit by police attached to the felony complaints against Tilden and Edwards-Gust.

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