Police: Intoxicated mom left newborn too close to space heater

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Feb. 23, 2015)-- Investigators said a Bloomington mother passed out, drunk and high on prescription drugs, and left her six-week-old newborn upstairs, two feet away from a space heater. Police found the baby crying and sweaty.

It was inside an apartment off East Miller Drive, where Bloomington police came Thursday for a welfare check.

"One of the officers heard a child crying and went upstairs where they found a six-week-old in a fleece onesie, approximately two feet away from a space heater. The child was in a bouncy seat," said Capt. Joe Qualters, with the Bloomington Police Department.

Qualters said the newborn boy was in danger, crying for who knows how long. Police found the child's mother, 22-year-old Erica Wells, passed out on the sofa, and according to court documents, she admitted to snorting Xanax.

"It appears that the mother had been involved in some drug activity as well as drinking alcoholic beverages," said Qualters.

The child's father, who also lives in the apartment complex, got locked out by Wells and called police because he said he was concerned for the well-being of his child.

The father of Wells' 5-year-old couldn't get her to the door either, but he somehow got his son and took him to the dentist.

Police said the temperature inside the apartment was 76 degrees, and alcohol was in the kitchen. The oven was also on, according to court documents, set to 400 degrees with the oven door open.

"There was a danger with the oven itself. Because apparently, the plastic handles were quite hot and almost appeared as if they were ready to melt," said Qualters.

Monday, neighbors were still in disbelief.

"No child at any age deserves that kind of treatment," said Camilla Lukasik.

Police said neglect happens often. Sometimes it's reported, and that kept a bad situation from becoming deadly.

"Perhaps in the long run, hopefully the mother can get some help herself," said Qualters.

Wells faces neglect of a dependent, resisting law enforcement, and disorderly conduct charges, because police said she was rude and physically disruptive.

The father of the six-week-old told FOX59 his child is in foster care, and he is working to get his son back.