Mother charged with abuse after putting baby inside freezer, deputies say

Mother charged with abuse after putting baby inside freezer, deputies say
Homeowner Joshua Blair says he found the mother's 8-month-old baby inside the unused deep freezer in his yard. He says he has since removed its lid to prevent something like this from happening again. (Source: WCYB/CNN)

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WCYB/CNN) - Deputies in Tennessee arrested a young mother, believed to have been under the influence, after she allegedly put her 8-month-old baby inside a stranger’s deep freezer and shut the lid.

Witness Joshua Blair says his mother happened to look out the window last Thursday and notice a woman, later identified as 19-year-old mother Brittany Smith, holding a baby in his yard.

When he went outside to check, Blair says he found Smith hiding under his house in a crawl space. Shortly after, he found the baby – shut inside an unused freezer in the yard.

The freezer had about an inch of standing water inside.

Blair said his first thought was that the mother was hiding a dead baby, but thankfully, the 8-month-old was still alive.

"It wasn’t moving, wasn’t nothing. I reached in and pulled it out. It started moving - instant relief,” he said. “I handed it up to my mother. If it wasn’t for my mother or my fiancée spotting her [Smith] in the backyard, nobody would have known she was here.”

Deputies say the baby was taken to the hospital and is now OK, but it was a close call.

"If they wouldn’t have seen her put the child in there, the baby would have run out of oxygen,” said Maj. Shawn Judy with the Washington County, TN, Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies are grateful to Blair and his family.

"They were very vigilant, kept an eye on everything, put clothes on the baby, fed the baby and everything until we arrived,” Judy said.

Smith is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the incident. She was arrested and charged with child abuse and neglect as well as burglary.

Smith’s mother is taking care of the baby. She says he is safe now.

Blair has removed the lid from the unused freezer to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

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