Roy Allen Stephens, 48 and his wife, Ruby Angelina Stephens, 23 were arrested and later charged with murder after their baby Betsey Kee Stephens starved to death while they ate at the Golden Corral. Baby Betsey was only 22 days old at the time of her death.
Betsey was born on Dec. 1 in Indiana. She weighed six pounds, one ounce at birth. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Betsey’s parents left her buckled in a car seat, in the parking lot, while they went inside a Lakeside, Florida Golden Corral restaurant and ate dinner on Dec. 23.
When they returned to the car, the mother noticed that Betsey’s foot was cold so she covered her with a blanket. Sometime later, when she checked on the baby again, her feet were unusually cold and the baby was unresponsive, so she decided to call 911 for assistance.
When emergency medical personnel from Polk County Fire Rescue and the Lakeland Fire Department arrived on the scene, Betsey was examined and rushed to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that Betsey had been dead for at least 3.5 hours prior to the 911 call. She had lost two pounds over the course of her short 22-day life and weighed only four pounds, one ounce when she died. Dr. Vera Volnikh, the Associate Medical Examiner said baby Betsey died as a result of malnutrition because she had been starved.
Detectives with the Violent Crimes Division of the Lakeland Police Department interrogated the parents, who said they had traveled from Indiana to Florida to visit with family members in the area. They checked into a local Comfort Inn on Highway 98 just before going to the Golden Corral to meet with for dinner with family. During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Roy Stephens was not Betsey’s biological father. The baby was the result of an extramarital affair and because of that, he did not pay much attention to her.
Ruby Stephens went on to tell detectives that she strictly breastfed her baby girl and made sure she ate every two to three hours. However, the medical examiner refuted those claims saying Betsey was dehydrated and had not eaten for at least six or seven hours prior to her death.
Assistant Police Chief, Mike Link said photos of Betsey were so horrible they rocked him to his core. He went on to say that in 30 years of police duty, he had never seen anything so bad and that it was obvious baby Betsey had “suffered tremendously” during the 22 days she lived.
Following a thorough investigation including background checks along with the medical examiner’s findings, both Roy and Ruby Stephens were charged with the first-degree murder of baby Betsey. She had two siblings, a two-year-old sister and a one-year-old brother. While both of the other children appeared to be in good health, they were removed from their parents care and placed in protective custody with the Florida Department of Children and Families.
By Donna W. Martin
Photo by johncatral – Flickr License