Tavares police report suggests father of dead infant 'didn't want baby'

No visual trauma found on boy, medical examiner reports

By Matt Petrillo - Reporter

TAVARES, Fla. - A medical examiner Saturday could not find any visual trauma on an infant boy found not breathing Friday night at a Tavares motel, and now it could take several weeks before authorities know what caused him to stop breathing. 

Neighbors called Tavares police about the 3-month-old boy not breathing at the Inn On the Green Motel. Detectives said the baby was being cared for by his father at the time, while the mother was at work. 

"The father is known to law enforcement," Tavares Police Cpl. Sarah Coursey said.

Police called the death suspicious, partly because of the behavior of the father, Gabriel Chance Steedley, 20.

According to an incident report released Saturday, at least three people told detectives that Steedley had said he "didn't want the baby."

Police also wrote in their report that on Friday night Steedley "did not appear upset or concerned." Then, when detectives talked to Steedley, he asked, "I'm going to jail for child neglect or something, aren't I?"

But there's been no arrests.

Police said more tests are being done, including a toxicology test, that could take up to eight weeks for results.

Police said there are challenges when responding to a call about a suspicious death of such a young child.

"It's tough," Coursey said. "I mean, it's the hardest call for us officers to ever hear. Our thoughts are with the family, with the citizens of Tavares. We're going to try to do everything we can."

 

There was a second child in the motel room who is under the care of the child's mother.

Family members of the boy have set up a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses. Click here if you would like to donate.

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