A New York City mother has been arrested and charged after authorities found her locked inside the restroom of a busy Manhattan restaurant with her unconscious 1-year-old boy.
The boy, identified as Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher, was foaming at the mouth when he was recovered and later died, police said. The woman, 35-year-old Latisha Fisher, was arrested at the 5 Boro Burger at 976 Avenue of the Americas after a restaurant worker went to check on her, used a key to enter the bathroom, and stumbled upon the grisly scene.
According to the New York Times, an employee of the restaurant attempted to perform CPR on the toddler, but Fisher blocked him. She was taken to the Midtown South Precinct station, where she reportedly told authorities the devil made her do it, the NY Daily News reports.
“I would describe her as soulless,” a law enforcement official said when asked if the mom seemed distraught. “She put her hand over his mouth and smothered him.”
Police are continuing their investigation to uncover a motive, but family members and those familiar with Fisher said there were no signs that she would commit a murder.
“Right now the family is in mourning,” said Miriam Lozada, whose son Luis Ortiz is little Gavriel’s father. “I’m going to miss my sweetheart, miss my boy, I’m going to miss him so much,” the tot’s grandma said through sobs. She said Fisher appeared like a normal mom, adding: “There were never any signs.”
The NYT reports that Fisher was arrested on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon in September 2011. And neighbors who live at Fisher’s Pitt St. apartment told the NY Daily News the woman had a “violent streak.”
A few recalled an older child has been taken from Fisher and said she knifed a family member a number of years ago. “I think she just went cuckoo on whoever was up there,” neighbor Carolyn Lawson, 47, said of the stabbing. “She needs help. It doesn’t make sense. I think she was on medication for whatever problem she had, but I’m assuming she wasn’t taking her meds.”
Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy for the toddler. They did not confirm whether child welfare authorities were contacted before Monday’s incident.
An investigation continues.