ActivePaper Archive Woman discovered child dead in back seat - Hobbs News Sun, 9/19/2019


Woman discovered child dead in back seat

Child was left in car 5 hours



Emerging details about a young child’s death on Tuesday reveal the 2-year-old girl had been left in the back seat of a car for more than 5 hours before a woman discovered Zariah Hasheme dead while strapped in a car seat.

Police said Tammie Lynn Brooks made the horrifying discovery after she turned around to look in the back seat of her car while making an afternoon deposit at a bank drive-through window.

“She told me the dispatcher told her to lay the child on a flat surface to administer CPR,” states the criminal complaint against Brooks, 41, of Hobbs. “She said she blew into the child’s face and did not see any signs of life. She said she laid Zariah on the seat and did chest compressions until Hobbs EMS arrived and took over.”

Brooks was interviewed Tuesday at the Hobbs police station. She reportedly forgot the child was inside her car and went to work Tuesday morning at an office in the Hobbs City Hall annex.

“Tammie was very distraught and verbalized she could not believe this had happened,” states the criminal complaint.

Brooks was arrested Tuesday and charged Wednesday with abandonment or abuse of a child resulting in death, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. She was booked into the Hobbs City Jail Tuesday and had her arraignment Wednesday in Hobbs Magistrate Court. Brooks is sched uled to have her next court appearance at 10 a.m. Monday before Hobbs Magistrate Court Judge Willie R. Henry.

Police call

Hobbs police responded at 1:27 p.m. Tues day to a report of an unresponsive child in the 1800 block of North Turner Street Police said investigators learned the child had been left in the care of Brooks early Tuesday morning.

“Brooks was supposed to drop the child off at daycare, however, drove to her place of employment instead,” the Hobbs Police Department stated in a news release Wednesday. “The child was left unattended in a car seat for several hours until Brooks realized the child was still in the car after running an errand.”

Temperatures in Hobbs reached into the upper-80s Tuesday afternoon. Police said the child was in full rigor mortis when police found her. The Office of the Medical Investigator pronounced Zariah dead at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday. An autopsy will be conducted by the OMI in Albuquerque.

According to the criminal complaint, Brooks took custody of the child at about 6:30 a.m. after Zariah’s mother dropped the girl off at Brooks’ home.

“She said when she was ready to leave to work she put the child in her vehicle and strapped the child into her car seat,” states the criminal complaint. “She told me Zariah was awake but tends to be a quiet child. Tammie said she normally drops off her twin boys but they’re with their father so she only had to drop off Zariah at daycare.”

Brooks reportedly told police because she works in the Hobbs City Hall annex near the child’s daycare center and because she starts work later than the child’s mother, she had been helping the mother by taking the child to a daycare in the 300 block of East Marland Street.

“Tammie said she drove straight to work,” states the criminal complaint. “She told me she stayed at work through her lunch hour since they are short-staffed.”

Brooks reportedly left work between 1:10 to 1:15 p.m. to make a deposit at Wells Fargo bank in the 1900 block of North Turner Street.

“She said she sent the deposit through an outside teller lane and for some reason turned to look behind her seat,” states the criminal complaint. “She said this was when she noticed Zariah was strapped into her car seat.”

Brooks said she told the bank teller she had an emergency and drove to the parking lot of a business in the 1800 block of North Turner Street to call 911.

A witness parked in front of the Dollar Tree store told the News-Sun Tuesday he saw a vehicle drive to an open spot in the parking lot and stop abruptly. The witness, who wished to not be identified, said Brooks got out of the car and raced to a back door and opened it.

“She grabbed the baby and then put the baby back in the car. I guess (she) was already dead,” the witness said. “(Brooks) called the police and that’s when they showed up.”

The witness said the woman and the child were the only ones in the car.

“After that, the coroners came, put up a blanket and took the deceased baby away,” the witness said. “It’s just too bad. I guess when she was driving out of the Wells Fargo parking lot she looked back and saw something was wrong with the baby and that’s when she pulled into the parking lot and stopped. I don’t know how long she was at the bank.”

Police also interviewed the child’s mother at the police station Tuesday.

“She was very distraught and crying,” states the criminal complaint. “She said she did not have any conversations with Tammie after dropping off Zariah. She said she has never had any concerns on how Tammie has taken care of Zariah.”

Hobbs police asked anyone with information about the incident to call the HPD at 575-397-9265.

Brooks’ criminal record

Brooks has a criminal history in New Mexico, according to court records and the Lea County District Court clerk’s office. While named Tammie Kitchens, she pleaded no contest in September 2004 in district court in Lovington to a third-degree felony charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance — methamphetamine. A fourth-degree felony charge of conspiracy to commit a third- or fourth-degree felony was dismissed by the prosecutor as part of the September 2004 plea agreement.

In November 2004, former District Judge Gary Clingman sentenced Kitchens to three years in prison, all of which was suspended, except six months to be served in the Lea County Detention Center. After being credited with good behavior, Kitchens was released from the county jail on March 2, 2005. Kitchens was discharged from two years of parole on Jan. 29, 2007.

Brooks works at Economic Development Corporation of Lea County. An EDC spokesperson told the News-Sun Wednesday that Brooks was hired on July 1, 2016, through a temp agency of Hobbs, which the spokesperson said was responsible for performing criminal background checks.

“The EDCLC family is devastated by this tragic event and our deepest sympathies go out to all of the families,” the spokesperson said. “The EDCLC is following our internal administrative leave policy pending the results of the investigation.”

Todd Bailey contributed to this report.

Jeff Tucker can be reached at .