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Mother Charged with Neglect in Baby’s Death at Benwood Home

Shmigal

BENWOOD — A Hancock County woman faces felony charges after allegedly letting her child die in her care while she was using heroin at a Benwood home.

Kace Lee Shmigal, 31, of Chester, turned herself in to police Thursday morning after being charged with child neglect resulting in death, after an incident dating back to July 11.

Around 9 p.m. that day, Benwood police were contacted by a Wheeling police officer that an infant had been admitted to the Wheeling Hospital emergency room, having come from a Benwood residence.

The infant, who was born in April and was identified as Shmigal’s daughter, was unresponsive, and was later airlifted to a Pittsburgh hospital, where medical staff later said the infant suffered ligament damage to her neck, and possible bleeding on her brain.

According to police reports, medical staff told the Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office that the child’s “pending death” was based on being deprived of oxygen, and that Shmigal was responsible for her injuries. The child subsequently died of her injuries just before 1 p.m. Wednesday, after being taken off life support.

While responding to the residence on July 11, police spoke to a man at the residence, who said he saw Shmigal slumped over on a bed, and that he believed the child to have blood on her face. Police said the man told them that there was Narcan in the residence, but that he “wasn’t about to Narcan no baby.”

At the time, Shmigal allegedly told police that she was napping with the baby, but that she may have “accidentally” struck the child while napping.

The homeowner, a friend of Shmigal, provided police with footage from her home security system, which recorded the hallway, the bedroom and the front porch.

In the bedroom, Shmigal was allegedly seen with a hypodermic needle and a bag. Police said the video footage shows Shmigal tie off her arm as she appears to prepare to use drugs. She then ducked behind a dresser, and reappears while her motor function decreases rapidly. She is allegedly seen staggering around the room for a short period before slumping over on the bed.

The footage showed the child moving slightly on the bed, before her mother kneeled next to the bed before the child stopped moving.

Police said that various angles show the child sleeping face-down on the bed. Shmigal is seen sitting on the edge of the bed, slowly slumping over onto her side toward the child.

Video footage apparently lapses for an hour, when at 8:20 p.m., the man is seen entering the room, and upon seeing the child’s bloody face, tells Shmigal to take the child to the hospital. Shmigal is said to have left the room with the child tossed over her arm, before she returned to gather her belongings, claiming that “everyone will rob” her if she leaves anything behind.

In a later interview, the homeowner allegedly told police that she had sold Shmigal Xanax at her residence while the child was present. She added that Shmigal called her back the following day, while the child was hospitalized, looking for more. A search warrant carried out on her social media account allegedly corroborates this.

Another woman interviewed by police, who was also present at the house that day, said she saw Shmigal using heroin while the infant was in the room, adding that she felt bad for the child.

Shmigal was arrested Thursday and was arraigned in Ohio County after being brought there by West Virginia State Police. It was not immediately known if she had an attorney.

She remains lodged at the Northern Regional Jail on a $100,000 percentage bond. Her preliminary hearing before Marshall County Magistrate Zach Allman is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 7.

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