Fairbanks police: Mom murdered 2 girls 2 years apart
A Fairbanks woman has been charged with murdering her two young girls in two separate incidents in 2015 and 2017, based on evidence discovered after the second child’s death.
Stephany E. LaFountain, 23, has been indicted on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder in the deaths of a 4-month-old child in September 2015 and a 13-month-old child in November 2017, Fairbanks police said Thursday.
Chief Eric Jewkes discussed the case during a news conference Thursday afternoon broadcast on Facebook.
Jewkes praised the patience of the November child's family, during the nine-month investigation of the case.
"We have a family of a baby that has suffered in obscurity in silence that no one knew about," Jewkes said. "They shouldered the grieving process alone and hopefully we'll be able to bring some closure to them."
Jewkes also cited Detective Avery Thompson's work leading the case, which he said spanned "thousands of hours" of work.
"There's the work you see and there's the work you don't see," Jewkes said. "We estimate that if we printed this report out it would be over 100,000 pages."
Fort Wainwright police initially investigated the Nov. 20 incident, in which LaFountain told dispatchers just before 6:30 p.m. that her child was not breathing. Her husband was deployed at the time, but his family arrived to help provide CPR; the child was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on Nov. 24.
After the child’s death, the case was transferred to FPD because “LaFountain and [the 13-month-old] are not military personnel.”
Police began to examine a Sept. 15, 2015 case in which LaFountain reported her 4-month-old child from a previous relationship wasn't breathing in her Third Avenue apartment at about 5 p.m. Medics arrived and took that child to Fairbanks Memorial, where the infant died about an hour later.
“As detectives reviewed the 2015 FPD case, they found similarities to the 2017 case which broadened their investigative scope,” police wrote.
Fairbanks police spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch said that although the 2015 death wasn’t initially investigated as a homicide, the circumstances of both deaths made them suspicious.
“It was the similarities between the two, realizing that there was an infant death that she was also involved with,” McCulloch wrote.
Both children’s deaths were determined to be consistent with suffocation by the state medical examiner’s office. According to FPD, investigators examining LaFountain’s online searches an hour before she made the November call found the following topics:
Ways to suffocate
Best ways to suffocate
Ways to kill human with no proof
Can drowning show in an autopsy report
16 steps to kill someone and not get caught
How to: Commit the Perfect Murder
Drowning and Forensics
Suffocating and Smothering
Police arrested LaFountain just after 2 p.m. Thursday.
“LaFountain has family in the Oregon area and has does not have other children,” police wrote.
Jewkes closed his remarks on the case by urging people to consider the implications of the case.
"Just take 10 seconds and think about a mother killing both her children, over two years (in) completely isolated events," Jewkes said. "And what that means and what happens sometimes in our community -- and sometimes the evil that exists, that's out there."
Anyone with information on the girls' deaths is asked to contact Detective Thompson at 907-450-6550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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