Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Family of Winnfred Wright

A Dead Baby

Hospital in San Rafael
Hospital in San Rafael

Late one night in November 2001, a group of women strolled into the emergency room of Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Rafael, Calif., carrying a dead baby.

The child had stopped breathing, they told ER personnel, and their attempts to revive him by giving him warm baths and CPR had failed. The boy had severely bowed frog legs and a grotesquely bloated stomach, and doctors were astonished to learn that the child, who had the body of a 5-month-old infant, was actually 19 months old.

When the attending doctor learned which of the four women was the mother and told her it was too late to revive her son, she was oddly indifferent, as were her companions. There was no crying or screaming or outward sign of grief; they just wanted to know if they could go home.

An autopsy revealed that the bones of the boy, Ndigo Wright, were broken in dozens of places due to a calcium deficiency, and that he suffered from rickets, a Victorian-era disease caused by lack of vitamins that has been all but eradicated in the United States.

The boy, the doctor determined, had starved to death. He quickly phoned the sheriff's department.

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