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Couple accused of neglect in death of child left in hot car

By Staff | Aug 25, 2011

A former Cape Coral couple charged in connection to the death of one of their four children remained in jail Wednesday.

Michael Clark, 26, and Kathleen Tashontae Jennings, 23, both of 928 Hibicus Lane, North Fort Myers, were each picked up on a warrant Tuesday for one count of neglect child, unattended child in a motor vehicle cause bodily harm.

Clark is being held on $75,000 bond, while Jennings has a $65,000 bond.

On July 31, Cape police responded to a medical call at 4921 Vincennes St., Unit 1, the couple’s former home. A neighbor reported that a baby was not breathing. Prior to police arrival, the couple took the child to the hospital.

The 1-year-old boy was later pronounced dead at Cape Coral Hospital.

The couple reportedly told police that the baby was left in a hot vehicle.

Cape detectives had arrest warrants for Clark and Jennings approved Tuesday. They were located in North Fort Myers and taken into custody.

The couple each have a court appearance scheduled Sept. 26.

Clark and Jennings have three other children.

“We have removed the other siblings from the home,” Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families, said Wednesday.

The children are under a judge’s order and state care, which could mean they were placed with relatives or in foster care, but Gillespie could not say which.

“We are working with the family as our investigation continues,” she said.

DCF opened an investigation into the boy’s death the day of the incident.

“We investigate any accidental or suspicious child deaths,” Gillespie said.

It takes about 60 days to complete an investigation, except in death cases. She explained that in death cases investigators have to wait on reports from law enforcement and the Medical Examiner’s Office, among other materials.

“Our case is still open,” Gillespie said.

According to police officials, preliminary evidence indicates that the boy’s cause of death was prolonged heat exposure. As of Wednesday, the medical examiner was waiting on some tests to make a final determination on that.