Winter Haven mother charged with aggravated manslaughter of 8-month-old infant

Posted at 2:16 PM, Oct 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 16:23:30-04

Polk County deputies have charged a Winter Haven mother with aggravated manslaughter for the death of her 8-month-old infant. 

Deputies say that 19-year-old Jada LeBoeuf was arrested on Thursday and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. Her eight-month-old daughter, Journey LeBeouf, died of suffocation on the morning of February 13, 2017 after LeBoeuf left her unattended for nearly five hours.

According to the arrest affidavit, Journey lived with her mother, aunt, and maternal grandparents in Winter Haven. Family members last saw Journey alive in the evening as they went to bed. Deputies say that LeBoeuf would typically sleep on a couch in the living room, and Journey would sleep in a car seat near her mother.

The following morning at around 4:40 a.m., family members did not see LeBoeuf or Journey; they only saw Journey's empty car seat, and LeBoeuf's blanket on the couch. They assumed the mother and daughter left together.

Shortly after LeBoeuf returned home sometime around 5:30 a.m., she found Journey on the couch, tangled in the blanket, and unresponsive.

An autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner's Office determined that the cause of death was suffocation.

Initially, LeBoeuf told detectives that she left the house at about 3:00 a.m. to ride with a friend to get something to eat. She said, at the time she left Journey on the couch and did not want to awaken anyone.

She went onto say that they stopped off at a McDonald's in Auburndale, but then encountered some car trouble. Detectives say that they later learned that she had lied about her early morning activities.

Through the investigation, the detectives learned that LeBoeuf left the house with a friend at about 12:45 a.m., and first went to a hookah bar in Lakeland, which was closed. LeBoeuf then went to a hookah bar in Orlando, before stopping at a McDonald's in Kissimmee.

LeBoeuf failed to tell her family members that she was leaving, without her daughter. Even when LeBoeuf's mother texted her at around 4:45 a.m., asking where she was, LeBoeuf did not ask her mother to check on Journey.

No one in the family had realized that Journey was in the home, tangled in the blanket.

Based upon the investigation, deputies determined that LeBoeuf failed to provide her eight-month-old daughter Journey with the care and supervision necessary to maintain the victim's physical health. This failure to provide care and supervision resulted in the victim's death.

"This terrible tragedy was 100% preventable. It is beyond comprehension how a mother could leave her child alone for five hours," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "That beautiful little baby girl should be alive today."

Mary Stringini is a reporter for ABC Action News. Follow her on Twitter @MaryWFTS.