Police say a Fairbanks, Ala., woman searched for things like “ways to suffocate,” “ways to kill human with no proof,” “how to commit the perfect murder” and more an hour before she called 911 to report her 13-month-old daughter wasn’t breathing, the Fairbanks News-Miner reported.
Now 23-year-old Stephany E. Lafountain faces multiple murder charges in the death of the girl, as well as the death of another of her children who died years ago in what police say were similarly suspicious circumstances, according to the paper.
“This is just an unimaginable tragedy,” Fairbanks Police chief Eric Jewkes said at a news conference Thursday. “We have two babies that were killed by their mother. How do we even imagine that?”
Jewkes said detectives had been working the case for nine months and had put in thousands of hours. He said the family of the babies had “suffered in obscurity, in silence, that no one knew they were all alone in this whole process.”
Police said it was Nov. 20, 2017, when Lafountain called 911 to report that her 13-month-old daughter had stopped breathing, the Anchorage Daily News reported. She also called her husband’s family, who came and performed CPR on the child, according to the paper.
Her husband at the time was a soldier and had been deployed, the paper reported.
The child was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead four days later, KTVA reported. But police noticed similarities between the death of the 13-month-old and the death of one of Lafountain’s previous children from another relationship, a 4-month-old girl who died in 2015, the station reported.
In that case, police say Lafountain also reported that the infant had stopped breathing before the child was taken to the hospital, where she died, KTUU reported.
The cause of death was undetermined at the time but has now been ruled as consistent with suffocation, according to KTUU.
Both babies were healthy and had no genetic conditions that would have caused them to suddenly stop breathing, police said, according to KTVF.
Police say Lafountain performed several suspicious internet searches one hour before calling authorities in the 2017 case, including for things like “suffocating and smothering,” “can drowning show in an autopsy report,” and “16 steps to kill someone and not get caught,” the Fairbanks News-Miner reported.
Police did not release a motive.
“Just take 10 seconds and think about a mother killing both her children, over two years (in) completely isolated events,” Jewkes said, according to KTVA. “And what that means and what happens sometimes in our community - and sometimes the evil that exists, that’s out there.”
Lafountain was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, Jewkes said in the news conference.