Warrant: Mother facing murder charge in ‘hot car’ death thought child was at day care

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville woman whose 6-month-old son died of hyperthermia — or excessive heat — told investigators she thought she had dropped the child off at day care, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Chantae Cabrera’s 6-month-old son was found dead on Aug. 9 in a vehicle located at the Food City on Clinton Highway. Cabrera, 30, was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday for first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated child neglect after a weeklong criminal investigation involving the Department of Child Services.

According to an affidavit filed by investigators with KPD, Cabrera told police, “It’s my fault! I forgot to drop my baby off at day care!” at the scene where her son was found dead.

Investigators say Cabrera told them she thought she had dropped off the infant at a day care on Merchant Drive after dropping off her eldest daughter at Pleasant Ridge Elementary while she was on her way to work at the Skin Wellness Center on Kingston Pike.

After leaving work around 2:30 p.m., Cabrera picked up her eldest daughter from school and drove to Food City for groceries. Cabrera realized her son was in the car when her eldest daughter said, “What is that?” She then called 911 and police responded to the scene around 3:15 p.m.

She was taken into custody without incident by members of the Smoky Mountain Fugitive Task Force on Friday.

Knoxville police investigators filed the search warrant on Aug. 12 after Cabrera refused to allow them to search her cellphone.

The Knox County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the cause of death as hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature. The outside temperature was 93 degrees when the child died and that investigators recorded a temperature of 100 degrees in the car after the car doors had been opened for awhile, according to the medical examiner’s report.

Cabrera is set to appear in court on Nov. 13.

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