Meridian police: Mother's neglect led to 5-year-old's death

Warren

A mothers' neglect is what Meridian police believe led to the death of a child and the injury of another child.

Details about the case came to light during a preliminary hearing Thursday in Meridian Municipal Court.

The case started on Sept. 11 when a bag of human remains were found in a basement of a house on Crabapple Drive. A preliminary autopsy report confirmed that remains found in a bag are a child's. 

Police believe the remains are of Jakie Warren, a 5-year-old with special needs.  

A suspect, Celeste Louise Smith, 35, of Meridian directed police to the body and was later charged with capital murder and two counts of child neglect. She was denied bond on the capital murder charge and has two $80,000 bonds for the neglect charges. 

Smith was a caregiver for Jakie Warren and a 4-year-old child, who is now in custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

The childs' mother, Teasia Warren, 24, was charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor on Sept. 19. Her bond was set at $160,000. 

Meridian police Det. Edwin Law said in court Thursday that Smith was the girlfriend of Warren’s father, Elgreco Warren, who was shot to death in Meridian on Jan. 27. 

Smith and Teasia Warren became friends after Elgreco Warren's death.

Law said that Teasia Warren was dealing with a drug episode and put her children in Smith's care because Smith had experience working with children. 

While Smith was bathing the children, they were burned with 150 degree water, causing boils on their skin, according to Law. 

Photographs showed burns on the younger child's forehead, cheek and back, Law said. That child was able to get out of the tub and run, but Jakie couldn't move and lay on the side of the tub, he said. 

When Jakie kept crying, Smith continued to hit him, Law said.

The autopsy report showed that Jakie died from blunt force trauma, Law said. 

Jakie could have died in April after Teasia Warren left him and the other child with Smith, Law said. After leaving the children with Smith, Teasia Warren didn't try to contact them, Law said. 

Police discovered that a healthcare worker owned the home where Smith took care of the children. A doctor would visit the home and thought the burns on the child were ringworm, Law said. 

Based on interviews with the younger child, police determined Smith poured hot water on him, Law said. Police believe the child’s story based on the injuries, he said. 

The child did not receive medical care because Warren was scared that Child Protective Services would take him away, Law said. There are no medical records of the child's injuries.

Law said when Teasia Warren came back in June to look for the children, she was told that Jakie was in Jackson with a relative. She did not attempt to look for Jakie until there was text message exchange in August, according to Law. 

Law said Teasia Warren asked Smith where Jakie was, prompting her to report him missing on Sept. 4.

City Court Judge Robbie Jones said Teasia Warren’s case was sent to the grand jury because she disregarded the best interest of her children.

“Even when the oldest child was reported absent, she did very little to inquire to verify his whereabouts,” Jones said.

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