Bond granted for Orange County teacher arrested in boy's hot car death

Mariah Butler faces charges of aggravated manslaughter, child neglect

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A teacher was arrested Tuesday in the death of a 4-year-old boy who was left in a hot SUV for about six hours at an Orange County school in September.

A judge issued bond Wednesday for Mariah Butler, who was arrested on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child. Her bond was set at $15,150 on both charges.

Butler's fiance's son, Logan Starling, died after being found unconscious at the end of the school day at Elite Preparatory Academy on West Oak Ridge Road, deputies said.

"I am delighted now just that they're holding someone responsible for the death of my great grandson. That's all I wanted," Roy Werner said. 

Butler, who taught at the school, said she had five children in her car and she thought they all got out as they walked into school, according to officials.

Records show that Butler thought Starling had possibly gotten back inside because he had a history of wandering off but surveillance video showed that the boy never got out of the vehicle.

Logan's Mother, Shelby Hester, said the recent arrest makes her son's death real.

"I understood what happened six months ago but now it's all coming down and it's becoming more believable than a dream," Hester said.

The other children couldn't remember Starling getting out of the vehicle or being with them when they entered the school.

When school let out at 2:30 p.m., another teacher asked Butler where Logan was, and Butler ran to the car and found him unconscious in his car seat, deputies said.

The school director took Logan to Orange County Fire Rescue Station 51, which is across the street from the school. He was then taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, deputies said.

The high temperature in Orlando that day was 94 degrees. The boy's body temperature was 108 degrees, according to investigators.

A test conducted by authorities found that the temperature inside the vehicle was likely at least 121 degrees. Another test proved that the vehicle could not have been opened from the inside since it was locked, records show.

On average, 37 children die each year as a result of being left in a hot car according to the National Safety Council. For tips on preventing hot car deaths, click here.

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