Infant found dead in a van in Price Hill

Jodie Edwards (Courtesy Cincinnati Christian University)
Jodie Edwards (Courtesy Cincinnati Christian University) staff - email

PRICE HILL, OH (FOX19) -- An 11-month baby girl was found dead Wednesday afternoon in the back seat of a van in the parking lot of the Cincinnati Christian University in Price Hill.

Cincinnati Police and the Hamilton County Coroner responded to Cincinnati Christian University on Glenway Avenue for a report of an infant left inside a vehicle.

Investigators say the mother, Jodie Edwards, a professional member of the counseling program at Cincinnati Christian, left her daughter, Jenna, in the van when she went to work at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The mother discovered her daughter was still in the back seat eight hours later as she was leaving work. Witnesses say when she saw her daughter, she apparently ran inside a university building, got some coworkers to come out and try to revive the baby, but that wasn't possible.

She called 911 around 4 p.m.

University president Dr. David Faust says Edwards has the support of the faculty and staff during this difficult time.

"Dr. Edwards is a responsible member of our faculty and right now our intention is to surround her with support, love and prayer," said Dr. Faust.

Meteorologists say Wednesday's temperatures climbed into the low 90s. The vehicle's inside air temperature likely exceeded 130 degrees.

Investigators were planning to interview Edwards and the infant's father Wednesday night. By 7 p.m., authorities had removed the car seat and had towed the minivan.

"We have to look at the facts and decide from there," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "I have no idea what the facts are yet."

Deters said in a statement that he expects the Cincinnati Police to turn over their investigation sometime next week.

"There are certain facts which must be determined prior to making any charging decision," he said.

Hundreds of people attended a vigil Thursday morning for the Edwards family. Counseling is being provided to faculty, staff and students at the university. Dr. Faust said he had spoken with Jodie Edwards on Thursday morning, and she thanked the community for the prayers and support.

Edwards and her husband, Chris, also have a 4-year-old son, Eli.

Edwards mainly teaches graduate students and is a model professor and mom, Faust said.

"This is a very, very caring place, and she's the kind of person who exemplified that," he said. "But bad things happen."

This incident comes almost a year after the Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby case. Last August 23, Slaby left her 2-year-old daughter, Cecelia, in a hot car.

Slaby was not charged in the case, but she did leave her job with the West Clermont school district.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.