A Bucks County woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of an infant who died at the unlicensed day care she ran for years out of her home.
Lauren Landgrebe, 50, was scheduled to go to trial on that charge, as well as charges of endangering the welfare of children, operating a facility without a license, and tampering with evidence, facing up to 36 years in prison. But prosecutors negotiated with Landgrebe’s attorney, Louis Busico, over the weekend, securing the plea and asking for a sentence of one day less than a year to one day less than two years in county jail, followed by 10 years’ probation.
Bucks County President Judge Wallace H. Bateman deferred Landgrebe’s sentencing, and will rule on it sometime next month.
“Undoubtedly, the raw emotion associated with this tragedy made this case too difficult to try,” Busico said. “The resolution offered to Mrs. Landgrebe, while holding her accountable, permits her to go on with the rest of her life.”
In August 2019, officers in Upper Southampton Township were called to Landgrebe’s home on Rosebud Road, according to prosecutors. There, they found 11-month-old Victoria Watson strapped into a car seat, unresponsive and cold to the touch.
The infant was taken to Abington Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An autopsy confirmed that the girl had been asphyxiated by a strap in her car seat, in which she had been improperly restrained, prosecutors said.
Landgrebe told detectives that she placed Victoria in the car seat, hoping the fussy infant would fall asleep after drinking from the bottle she propped up next to her using a towel, according to the affidavit of probable cause for her arrest. She left the child sleeping there, she told police, stopping to send a photo of Victoria in that pose through Snapchat, joking that she had “a rough night.”
After placing the infant in the car seat, she went outside with two other children she was caring for. She checked on the infant only once as she slept, according to the affidavit.
When Landgrebe’s husband came home, he saw that Victoria “didn’t look right” and noticed a liquid coming out of her mouth, the affidavit said. He gave the child CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
As her husband tried to resuscitate the child, Landgrebe deleted the photo she sent through Snapchat, according to investigators, something she disclosed to detectives at a second interview.
Victoria’s family wept in the courtroom Tuesday as the facts of the case were read into the record. Two of them addressed Bateman, taking turns calling Landgrebe selfish, and describing how Victoria’s death had left deep emotional scars.
“This woman took so much from our family,” said Margaret Kosmal, Victoria’s great-aunt, who listed a lifetime of memories she will never get to share with the girl.
“The death of Victoria did not have to happen,” Kosmal said. “This was a conscious decision of neglect.”