Police are investigating the death of a 2-month-old baby after she and two other people were found nude, unconscious and covered in white powder in a parking lot just south of downtown Los Angeles early Thursday.
Officers responded to a call of a screaming woman at San Pedro and 23rd streets around 1:45 a.m., said Officer Irma Mota, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
They found a woman, who was 26 or 27, an 8-year-old girl and the baby girl, unconscious and covered in a white powder, which authorities have identified as a baby product. They were next to a car in the parking lot behind a business, Mota said.
All three were taken to a hospital, where the baby died, Mota said. The woman was in stable condition, and the 8-year-old was in critical condition as of about 7 a.m., she said.
Homicide investigators are on the scene, and officials do not yet know what caused the baby’s death, Mota said.
Sunhee Chung, who runs a neighborhood liquor store, said the woman, the girl and baby were outside the store Wednesday night. One of Chung’s employees was mopping and noticed all three were nude and covered in white powder. The woman stood on the corner breastfeeding the baby.
Chung said the woman had come into the store earlier in the evening, wearing pajamas and no shoes. Her hair was messy, Chung said. She said the woman usually came in nicely dressed. She was complaining that the girl was crying all night, Chung recalled. The girl complained that she wanted to live with her grandmother.
Chung also said the woman was wandering from car to car trying to open the doors. She said she saw her on her store’s security camera footage trying to open her car’s door.
Neighbor Johnett Green said she saw the woman's boyfriend cursing and screaming at her often. Green’s cousin told her the boyfriend once broke windows looking for the woman.
But the woman otherwise seemed completely normal. She did not appear to be on drugs or to be suffering from obvious mental illness, Green said.
"That's why I'm very amazed and wondering how in the hell this could happen,” she said.
LAPD Lt. Chris Ramirez confirmed that the woman and her children were seen around the neighborhood without clothes.
Ramirez also said officers earlier in the evening responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call the same house the woman is thought to have lived in. They saw white powder in one of the rooms. But they found no evidence of a crime when they arrived, so they left.
The house is a single-family residence with blue trim roof. The rooms are rented out to different people.