A 14-month-old girl was found alive Thursday beside her dead mother in a partly filled bathtub of cold water.
The girl was discovered after a neighbor reported hearing running water and the baby’s cries during the previous 24 hours.
The girl, Ava Marie Granger, is in good health, officials reported Thursday afternoon. Child Protective Services took her into custody, and she’s been placed in a temporary foster home. Caseworkers are attempting to locate family members, including the baby’s father, who did not live at the duplex where the child was found.
The 44-year-old mother was identified as Lori Granger, Spokane Valley police spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said. An autopsy is planned to determine her cause of death, but police don’t suspect foul play.
Officers responded about 10 a.m. Thursday to the duplex on North Vista Road, where the mother and daughter had been living since last winter, Reagan said. The concerned neighbor had contacted the duplex’s landlord when the woman didn’t answer her phone or respond to knocking at her door. The landlord called police.
Ava Granger’s cries and a running shower could be heard from outside the duplex, Reagan said. Police entered using the landlord’s key.
The mother and daughter were found in a half-filled tub under a running shower that had long since gone cold. The water had been running into the unplugged tub since Wednesday morning.
An officer made a bottle to calm the hungry and crying girl, Reagan said. Police searched the home, looking for signs of what caused Lori Granger’s death, but found nothing.
A CPS worker arrived at the modest home a short time later to collect Ava and take her to a hospital to be checked, Reagan said.
Mark Waltering, the neighbor who heard the baby’s cries, was home at midmorning because he’s been recovering from multiple surgeries. He was distraught over the discovery and the thought of the dark-haired little girl who had endured the night in the bathtub.
“It’s not every day I get dressed, but I did today,” Waltering said. “I called my landlord and told him this was weird.”
Lori Granger called Waltering about 7 a.m. Wednesday, asking if the coffee was on. It was the first time she’d ever done so. He told her “no, not yet.”
A short time later he heard the water running in Granger’s duplex. He said he knew she had a doctor’s appointment that morning and didn’t think much of it.
About 11 a.m., he heard the baby girl crying off and on, and the water running. Waltering said he went next door and knocked, but no one answered. He called Granger’s cell phone and her regular phone but got no answer.
He still didn’t think anything was necessarily wrong because he’d heard the baby cry many times. “She’d been teething like crazy,” Waltering said. He said it also wasn’t unusual for Granger to shut out the world from time to time.
But when he again noticed the sound of running water Thursday morning, he knew something was wrong.
Waltering and Granger, who didn’t work, had lived next door to each other for more than nine months, but it was only during the past few months that she had started talking to him. Even then, it was mostly superficial chat, he said.
A couple of times she’d called to talk about problems she said she was having with the baby’s father, and he’d tried to console her, he said. “But she really never got into the details of her personal life,” he said.
Granger’s favorite topic of conversation was her daughter, Waltering said. “That little girl was her world. She said it was her first child.”
Waltering said he was sure something was amiss when he still heard the water running next door about 6:30 a.m. Thursday. That’s when he called the landlord.
“If I’d heard something unusual maybe I could have done something,” Waltering said. “I wish I had a sense of what happened.”
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