Houston Mother Facing Charges for Emaciated Child Found Dead in the Refrigerator
Charges have been filed against a local mother who officials claim kept the emaciated body of her disabled daughter in the crisper drawer of her refrigerator for months following her death.
Amber Keyes was charged Monday with injury to a child by omission in the death of her daughter, nine-year-old Ayahna Comb, who was found stuffed inside a refrigerator drawer in Keyes's Southwest Houston apartment earlier this year.
Keyes is accused of failing to seek medical care for her daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy and was severely emaciated, weighing just 14 pounds when she was found.
"By not providing the proper parental care or seeking medical and/or professional assistance for Ayahna's condition, the defendant caused injury to Ayahna by omission, which led to the death of the child due to neglect," according to court documents.
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Records say that Keyes told authorities the girl had not seen a doctor for two years, during which she continued to obtain medical care and immunizations for her younger daughter.
Keyes told investigators that Ayahna died January 29 and that she placed her body in the fridge. She continued to use the fridge to store food until Ayahna was found June 9, six months later, according to the documents.
Police say that Keyes continued to collect Social Security Disability Income and Food Stamps for Ayahna following her death, and that at one point, she renewed the girl's benefits and was given an increase.
Keyes had an extensive history with CPS, and had been investigated for neglect and substance abuse prior to Ayahna's death, according to court records. Her eldest daughter was put up for adoption after she lost custody in 2004.
An emergency custody hearing was held in June for Keyes's youngest child, a five-year-old girl, who was placed in foster care. Channel 2 obtained an investigator's affidavit from that hearing, which states that the child told investigators she found her sister's body when she "opened the drawer to the fridge looking for a cheese stick and there was a body in the drawer."
The affidavit also states that when investigators asked Keyes why she placed her child's body in the fridge, "Ms. Keyes said she panicked and does not know why she didn't call for help."
Authorities arrested Keyes on Tuesday and booked her into the Harris County jail. Her bail has been set at $50,000.