Lafayette woman booked in death of 3-year-old daughter

City police have arrested a Lafayette woman suspected of allowing her 3-year-old daughter to die of hypothermia brought on by dehydration and starvation.

Sarah Leblanc, 27 also is accused of lying to police about where she was the day her child died — July 24, officials said.

Leblanc was booked Tuesday on one count of negligent homicide in the death of the child, whose name is not being released, Lafayette Police Department Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

Mouton said an autopsy revealed the girl died from hypothermia caused by a lack of fluids and food.

Leblanc told detectives that she and the girl had been ill and were suffering from diarrhea for a few days. She said the girl fell asleep at 6 a.m. on July 24 and that she, too, fell asleep about an hour later, and did not wake up until 7 p.m., according to a probable cause affidavit in Leblanc’s arrest.

Leblanc said she smoked a cigarette outside the Acorn Drive home after she awoke, then found her baby inside unresponsive. “During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the (victim) went approximately 25 hours without food or fluids due to the alleged illness,” Detective Jason Migues said in the affidavit.

Leblanc’s story about being home all day fell apart after she was shown video footage of herself at a fast-food restaurant that day — without the child, Migues said.

“She denied leaving the residence until a picture of her at the local restaurant was provided to her,” Migues said. He did not include in the affidavit how long detectives believe Leblanc was at the restaurant.

Paramedics who tended to the unresponsive child on July 24 tried to revive her, said Melissa Richter, who lives a few doors away from Leblanc’s home.

“They were working on her a good seven minutes, Richter said. “I was crying.”

Arline Lavergne, who lives next door to the Acorn Drive home Leblanc rented, said she seldom saw Leblanc with her daughter outside.

Lavergne said she sometimes caught glimpses of the child through a window, “dangling her feet from her high chair.”

Richter and Lavergne said Leblanc and the girl lived alone in the home, and that the only visitors were immediate family.

“For the last five months, we saw no child,” Lavergne said, adding that she thought the little girl had gone to live with relatives.

Learning on Wednesday the details of the girl’s death, Lavergne said she was shocked.

“I feel bad now. Of course, it’s too late,” she said.

The girl was pronounced dead at Lafayette General Medical Center, where “the doctor on scene advised that the child looked to have been deceased for a while,” Migues said in the affidavit.

It was unclear Wednesday if Leblanc had an attorney.

Mouton said the investigation continues.