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Logan County parents charged in infant son's death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Logan County father suffocated his infant son after he took pills and passed out while holding the child on Tuesday, police said.

The West Virginia State Police charged the parents, Timothy Douglas Marcum, 25, and Bessie Mae Marcum, 21, with child neglect resulting in death. The Marcums were arrested at their Chapmanville home Wednesday afternoon.

Trooper L.D. Hensley said Timothy Marcum called 911 Tuesday morning after finding his 1-month-old son, Alexander, not breathing.

Troopers said they later discovered that both parents had fallen asleep with the baby in bed Monday night. Timothy Marcum was the first awake Tuesday morning and, at some point, allegedly took three powerful prescription painkillers before holding the baby in his arms. Bessie Marcum also woke up and took one of the painkillers, Hensley said.

Timothy Marcum then passed out with his son in his arms positioned in a way that cut off the baby's airflow, Hensley said. Marcum reportedly realized his son was unresponsive after the pill's effects had worn off.

The Marcums did not have a prescription for the painkillers they took, the trooper said.

A state medical examiner completed the baby's autopsy Wednesday morning. The examiner found that the baby had died from suffocation and had no other trauma, Hensley said.

Troopers arrested the couple, and Hensley said they are cooperating with investigators. Bessie Marcum was charged the same as her husband because she knew he had taken several pills before holding the baby, Hensley said.

The Marcums lost a 4-month-old son, Timothy Douglas Marcum Jr., on May 28, 2010, according to an obituary in the Logan Banner. The obituary does not list a cause of death.

The incident report for Alexander Marcum's death mentions the earlier death but does not say if it might have any bearing on the new investigation, State Police Sgt. M.S. Lively said Wednesday night.

The Marcums were awaiting arraignment Wednesday, police said, after which they were to be taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden.

Trooper R.E. Stowers is the lead investigator.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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