Rachel Downer charged with manslaughter after her cousin, 6, freezes to death

Categories: Crime, Tragedy
RachelDowner.jpg
Rachel Downer
Rachel Downer was charged today with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the February 27 death of her cousin, six-year-old Mercedes Mayfield.

Downer, a 22-year-old Bemidji resident, was tasked with babysitting Mayfield the night before the girl was found frozen to death outside her mother's apartment building, the criminal complaint says. But instead of staying at Mayfield's mother's place and looking after the girl, Downer decided to head back to her apartment.

Tragically, she didn't make sure Mayfield was safely inside her mom's apartment building before she left, and temperatures in the Bemidji area that night fell as low as 20 below, with windchills twice that cold.

The criminal complaint explains how Mayfield ended up stuck outside after dinnertime:
[Downer] said that she told her aunt that she was going to take Mercedes with her to stay at her apartment. She said that she later changed her mind but did not tell her aunt about the change in plans [Mayfield's mother was already in bed at this time]. Downer stated that she gathered up her belongings and her son and that Mercedes helped her carry items out to her car. Downer stated that Mercedes closed the outside door to the building lightly, so that it would not latch. She said that after the car was loaded up, that she watched Mercedes enter the building and that she got in her car and left.
The next morning, Mayfield's mother, Mailka Peoples, who was taking pain medication for an arm injury at the time, awoke to her alarm at 6 a.m., but Mercedes wasn't in her apartment.

SEE ALSO: Andrew Sandstrom charged with manslaughter for leaving baby in hot van

The complaint explains what happened from there:
Peoples said that she then called Downer and asked her why she had taken Mercedes home with her when she knew Mercedes had school. She said Downer told her she did not take Mercedes with her. Ms. Peoples said that she then looked out her front window and saw her daughter lying on the front step.
When authorities arrived, they found Mayfield "still and frozen" and "unresponsive." She was wearing a winter coat and a hat. A provisional autopsy concluded that her cause of death was "hypothermia due to exposure to hypothermic conditions."

The door into Peoples's apartment building is controlled by a buzzer, the complaint says. It's unclear what efforts Mayfield made to get inside between when Downer left and the next morning.

Since Mayfield was found dead, Downer has posted a number of tributes to her cousin on her Facebook page:

RDownerFB.jpg

Downer faces up to a decade behind bars.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
36 comments
Greta von Otto
Greta von Otto

Some bleeding heart judge will probably give her probation!

Ryan Schoen
Ryan Schoen

A child's death due to laziness.. Smh. That's F'd up!

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

What a terrible story.  There are too many children dependent on adults who may have less sense and judgment than the children themselves.

Dana Polk-Simmers
Dana Polk-Simmers

I'm not entirely sure she even realizes what she did. Or didn't, as the case may be.

Zachary L. Metoyer Sr.
Zachary L. Metoyer Sr.

What a tragedy! When it is freezing cold outside we have to give special care to our children and elders! Anyone living in Minnesota knows that the freezing cold will kill you!

Ceil Benson
Ceil Benson

such a waste! it makes one wonder how she parents her own child.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

Just take a look at that Rachel Downer - if that isn't a piece of work!

We're becoming a turd world country.

Jeremiah R. Harris
Jeremiah R. Harris

She deserves more than that, like a night outside next winter in the same conditions.

Indi Blu
Indi Blu

she was six in below zero weather. what a asshat!

Mare Anderson
Mare Anderson

Someone failed to teach her child safety or send her to a class for caregivers.

Tracie411
Tracie411

Any person responsible for a six year old child shouldn't leave them at an entryway of an apartment complex!  Use Common sense and walk the girl to her apartment and make sure she gets in!

Reier Erickson
Reier Erickson

Yes. Precisely... questioning her actions... not blaming her.

Ambrosia Garcia
Ambrosia Garcia

As Jenna Warmuth pointed out above, it's solely the responsibility of the guardian to insure that the child is safely in her home. She was the last person to have her in her care, and because she didn't take the steps to secure her safety, a child is dead. It's not the neighbors' fault or responsibility, and I'm sure that if anybody had seen this child they would have tried to help her. This woman was careless, and it cost somebody their life.

Susie Quarstad
Susie Quarstad

um, ok, no it really doesn't seem clear at all, "it's an apartment building, she couldn't have buzzed another apartment, a neighbor perhaps and gotten in the building at least? I mean, I know she was only six, but still...". These words actually sound like you are questioning Mercedes actions and wondering why she didn't help herself...but I get it, we are all confused about the situation. It is hard for me to imagine that a young girl, would have just sat outside and let herself freeze to death. She probably trusted that someone, like her aunt, would come and help her. It's heartbreaking that this could ever happen.

Reier Erickson
Reier Erickson

Also, what kind of people are living in this apartment building that don't help out a kid... Bemidji sounds awful.

Reier Erickson
Reier Erickson

I wasn't blaming the kid... was just confused as to what exactly had happened... if you read my post that seems pretty clear.

Susie Quarstad
Susie Quarstad

Don't blame the child, who for all you know couldn't reach a buzzer, anyway, just don't blame the poor kid!

Jenna Warmuth
Jenna Warmuth

The point is that there was an adult who should have made sure she was inside safe and did not. What the child did or did not do after that is irrelevant.

Reier Erickson
Reier Erickson

... I'm confused... it's an apartment building, she couldn't have buzzed another apartment, a neighbor perhaps and gotten in the building at least? I mean, I know she was only six, but still...

crxtasy
crxtasy

@swmnguy  


Then maybe those "adults" should think before they reproduce.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@Truth_Teller_1, "crxtasy":  Well duh. Obviously one shouldn't have kids without having the whole support system in place.  But people do, all the time.  It isn't the kids' fault.  So just saying, "That kid shouldn't have been born" is already an irrelevant statement, at least 6 years and 9 months too late for this poor little girl.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@mingtran @swmnguy@Truth_Teller_1 

What's the solution?  Tell people they can't have children?  In The United States of America?  Take their kids away?  Execute the children when their parents can't afford them anymore?  What's your solution?

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...