FORT WORTH, Texas - Multiple agencies are investigating the accidental death of a 9-month-old boy at a Fort Worth home.
John Norris was found unresponsive in a car seat that had been placed in a closet around 10 p.m. Monday night. The medical examiner ruled he died after being strangled by the seat’s safety belt.
The woman who was caring for Norris told police she put him in the closet for a nap after feeding him and did not check on him for two hours.
“The infant’s neck was caught in between the car carrier chest buckle that wasn’t fastened. And the child appears to have suffocated by the means of the buckle and the strap mechanism,” said Officer Brad Perez with the Fort Worth Police Department.
There were 10 to 11 other children in the home at the time. The state's Child Care Licensing Department said it was not licensed or registered as a day care. CCL is now investigating, along with the Fort Worth Police Department.
The boy's mother, Megan Norris, says the last time she saw John was Monday afternoon when she dropped him off at the babysitter, just as she had been doing since the beginning of the year.
"Up until this point, there were no red flags, nothing, no bruises, no scratches. Nothing to make me think he might be being neglected," she explained.
Megan says she works late hours and traditional daycare hours don't work for her so she interviewed a woman who responded to her Facebook ad and checked out her home.
"Because I always dropped John off in the late afternoon and picked him up later at night, I did not see other parents picking up or dropping off," Megan said. "I had no idea what was going on or I never would've left him there."
Megan says the woman told her she was only watching a total of four kids in the home, including the woman's own niece and nephew. She says she had no idea her son was put in a car seat to sleep or that up to 11 kids were there.
Neighbors nearby the home on Woodpecker lane say they didn't know either.
"I've never heard any kids before," said neighbor Margie Foster. "The children were not outside. I don't know how they handled that - having them all inside."
Child Protective Services has ordered the babysitter to stop caring for children until their investigation is complete. No one answered the door when a FOX 4 reporter knocked, but a neighbor went by to pick up two children there. It's unclear if the children lived at the home or not.
Though she thought she was doing everything right there, Megan urges other parents to ask for more details before trusting their kids with anyone.
"No question should be too intrusive," she said. "They should give you full access to their home. They should provide you whatever CPS and criminal background check you want."
"Child Care Licensing urges parents to seek regulated child care providers for their children. Providers who are regulated have gone through background checks and receive training on child health and safety issues. They are also inspected on a regular basis to make sure they are complying with the minimum standards for child care. There are nearly 6,400 licensed or registered in-home daycares and over 9,400 daycare centers in Texas," the department said.
Parents who would like to check the license and inspection history of their daycare can visit www.txchildcaresearch.org.