Foster mother, 20-year-old Sydney Danielle White, arrested in baby's death

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A 20-year-old woman from Grand Junction is facing charges in the death of her 11-month-old foster daughter.

The Grand Junction Police Department said Sydney Danielle White told investigators she "accidentally dropped" the infant, Angel Lane Place, on the floor September 12, and then on September 15, grabbed her by the neck and shook her.

Police said Angel arrived at Children's Hospital in Aurora from Grand Junction on September 16 and was taken off life support the next day. The coroner said Angel died of "blunt force head injuries" and ruled her death a homicide. White is charged with child abuse resulting in death and is in the Mesa County jail on a $100,000 bond.

White told police that Angel suffered a minor cut on her lip and a bloody nose in the incident on September 12, and said Angel hit her head in the fall.

According to an arrest affidavit, White said that on the morning of September 15, Angel was screaming and she couldn’t get her to stop. She told police she held the baby "by the neck with both hands and shook her multiple times." She said she stopped after one of her children then came into the room and said, "Mommy, stop it," and put Angel to sleep.

"White said the baby initially became lethargic and wouldn’t wake up, but that later she appeared to be doing better," police said in a statement sent to 7NEWS. "Later that night White took Angel to St. Mary’s Hospital when Angel’s right side became stiff and she was unresponsive."

CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta spoke Tuesday with Angel's biological mother, Tierra Place, who said her daughter her been removed from her home because she and her husband fought, and said her husband told human services he used marijuana.

Place said her brother is married to White, and she approved of Angel being placed with the couple. She said her brother, who is 21, checked in with her every day.

"This is like losing her twice. I don't know how someone could possibly do that to a baby," she said. "Inside I know she is walking with God."

Ted Place, Angel's father, is now threatening to sue Mesa County.

"You know I was seeing pictures of her, seeing videos, you know she was doing good, she was making good progress, and I was ok with the situation she was in," he said. "And then, all of a sudden, I had just found out that your daughter is in urgent care in Denver, Colorado, and you need to come there. I just want Mesa County to pay for what they've done."

The Mesa County Department of Human Services website lists 21 as the minimum age to become a foster parent, and officials with Colorado DHS confirmed Tuesday that is a state-wide policy. But counties can make exceptions for situations known as kinship placements, in which children are placed with adult relatives 18 or older.

The CALL7 Investigators looked into Sydney White's background and found no criminal history. According to the arrest affidavit, Angel had been placed with White since July, and she and her husband were in the process of adopting the little girl.

Mesa County DHS said they cannot provide details about the conditions of Angel Place's placement because the case is an open investigation.

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