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Infant twins starved, one to death, 3 charged, authorities say

The 17-year-old mother, whose name was not released; Sharode Snell, 22, the father; and Joy Wilson, 36, the guardian, were charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and child endangerment.

TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

The parents of twin baby girls and the babies’ guardian have been charged with starving the infants and causing the death of one when she was two months old last year, authorities said Monday.

The mother, now 17, whose name was not released because she is a juvenile; Sharode Snell, 22, the babies’ father; and Joy Wilson, 36, the guardian, were charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and endangering the welfare of a child, Camden County authorities said.

The five had lived together in the La Cascata Apartments in Gloucester Township. Police were called to the home in July 2019 for a report of an unresponsive infant. One of the babies was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said.

The prosecutor’s office said the baby’s death was ruled a homicide only this past summer after test results confirmed her death resulted from starvation.

Snell and the 17-year-old were arrested Monday in North Carolina by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

Authorities waited until Monday to announce the charges to give the task force time to find and arrest the pair, said Colby Gallagher, spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.

Wilson, most recently living in Lindenwold, was arrested last Thursday. She was taken to the Camden County Correctional Facility and is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday.

According to the affidavit of probable cause for Snell’s arrest, when he was interviewed last year at the hospital, he told detectives that his twins would typically drink four to six ounces of formula at a time. But crime-scene detectives found no baby food or formula at Wilson’s residence.

On the same day the one baby died, the other was rushed to the hospital because of vomiting, the affidavit says. She was then transferred to Cooper University Hospital, where a doctor examined her and found her to be severely malnourished and found that she had multiple healing and acute rib fractures, the affidavit says.

The surviving baby’s weight has since become normal, and doctors have determined that there was no evidence that her early failure to thrive was based on any metabolic or medical conditions, the affidavit says. She also did not have any new bone fractures, leading authorities to conclude her earlier bone fractures resulted from abuse, the affidavit says.

“This is one of those tragic cases that you can hardly believe when you learn the suffering these two babies went through, ultimately leading to one of their deaths,” Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer said in a statement. “While we are deeply saddened that one of the babies died as a result of this abuse, we are grateful that her twin sister was able to be treated and is now thriving and safe. The lengthy and meticulous investigation in this matter was of paramount importance to everyone who took part in it.”