MELISSA, Texas - An arrest affidavit revealed the father of a 6-month-old girl that died after being left in a hot car had put her in a refrigerator before calling for help.
Michael Thedford was arrested and charged with manslaughter after Collin County Sheriff’s Deputies found his daughter unresponsive at the family's home near Melissa Teusday afternoon.
According to the affidavit, Thedford had returned home with the baby at 9 a.m. after dropping off his two other children, ages 5 and 3, at daycare. The 6-month-old had spiked a fever the night before and couldn’t go to daycare.
Thedford told police he forgot the baby in the van and went inside to go to sleep. She was in the van for about three hours before he woke up and discovered her.
He told police she was stiff and “hot as a brick.” He “placed the child in the refrigerator for an undetermined length of time prior to calling 911,” the affidavit states.
Criminal attorney Todd Shapiro believes the little girl’s father may have been negligent but not reckless, according to the law.
“I think it's going overboard. I think they've overcharged him, based on the facts of this case,” Shapiro said. “That he acted in a reckless manner. I don't think he consciously disregarded any unjustifiable risk in this case.”
Shapiro says the father’s behavior after points to someone who cared for his child.
“It looks like he tried to do CPR to resuscitate her to no avail, so it sounds like his actions were very much as a parent that was living out their very worst nightmare,” he said.
Neighbor Fabiola Contreras watched as firefighters and paramedics arrived, and then left quickly. She grew concerned when detectives swarmed the family’s front yard.
Contreras said Thedford was home the whole time. His wife drove up later and the couple hugged and cried. Detectives videotaped Thedford describing how the child had gotten left in the van.
"They used a Mickey Mouse type of doll for him to show what happened. And now that I think about it, they also were measuring from the van to the door,” she said.
Contreras said Thedford was a substitute teacher at Melissa High School. She said his family seemed loving.
"It's kind of shocking how this happened because on Sunday we saw family members and them having a good time for Father's Day," Contreras said.
The case brought back horrible memories for other parents who had a similar near-miss with their then-3-year-old son, Michael, last summer. They describe it as something that could happen to any parent.
Eric Stuyvesant forgot to drop Michael off at the babysitters after rushing to get his wife Michelle to work on time. He says he forgot his son was in the car for about an hour and twenty minutes.
“When I got there, he was profusely sweating,” he recalled. “His eyes had turned grey. His lips were blue.”
The Stuyvesants say Michael had six heat strokes and spent five weeks in the hospital and in rehab, learning to walk and eat again.
“It's crazy because it's one of your worst nightmares, as a parent,” said Michelle Stuyvesant. “You hear the stories every summer.”
The official high temperature in North Texas on Tuesday was 98 degrees, tying for the hottest day so far in 2016.
Thedford was released from jail after posting his $20,000 bond.