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Mother Charged After Newborn Son Suffocates Sleeping Next to Her in Bed — Her Second Child to Die This Way: Cops

N.C. Mom Accused of Manslaughter After Baby Died While Co-Sleeping
Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office; Mega

Mackenzie Katlyn Reed has lost 2 newborns to suffocation while co-sleeping with her, officials said.

Mar. 18 2024, Published 2:03 p.m. ET

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A mother in North Carolina has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of her baby son, who suffocated while sleeping with her — the second time one of the mother’s newborns died in a similar manner, officials said.

On Oct. 2, 2023, Mackenzie Katlyn Reed was “smoking THC and using THC gummies during the day and evening” in the hours leading up to the child’s death, according to court documents obtained by the Star News.

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Police said the 7-week-old infant, later identified as Zhen, was unconscious after sleeping in a queen-sized bed with his twin, the mother, and another parent.

Zhen was not breathing and could not be saved, officials said.

The autopsy report from the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner notes the infant's cause of death was “asphyxia due to unsafe sleep environment.” The baby was also suffering from the “human rhino/enterovirus infection,” also known as the common cold, which contributed to his death.

Authorities said he was found “prone…with (his) face in (a) blanket.”

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According to police, the child’s father woke up around 2 a.m. and found Zhen face down on the mother’s right side after Zhen’s twin brother started to cry.

During the investigation, police determined this wasn’t the first time one of Reed’s children died while sleeping next to her.

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In 2022, Reed’s 3-month-old son Justin died. According to the police report, “the mother…stated that she could not believe that she had done this a second time.”

According to the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, Reed didn’t face charges in the 2022 case because there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

On March 6, Reed was charged in the 2023 death with involuntary manslaughter, as well as child abuse causing serious injury and child abuse and neglect causing serious physical injury, officials said.


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