CLAY COUNTY — A Smithville woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday, Jan. 25, to felony endangering the welfare of a child that led to the child’s death.

Karen E. Vice, 53, was arrested by Clay County deputies Sunday, Jan. 24 at her residence on Hawthorne Street in Smithville in connection with a grand jury indictment in the case. The indictment alleges Vice failed to “supervise and maintain a safe sleeping environment” for a child on Feb. 12, 2021.

According to a Smithville police incident report, first responders were dispatched to Vice's residence around 2:30 p.m. Feb. 12 to a report of an unresponsive 4-month-old baby boy.

Upon officer arrival, according to police records, Vice, who was babysitting eight children in the residence, was in the living room administering CPR to the baby on an ottoman before an ambulance crew arrived.

According to the incident report from Smithville police, Vice told the responding officer the baby had been unresponsive for "probably 10 minutes." Vice also allegedly told investigators the child returned to her care that morning around 7:30 a.m. after being in quarantine for COVID-19 for the past three weeks.

According to the officer, the last time Vice saw the baby "OK" was around 1:45 p.m.

"She stated she had laid the infant down on the bed, face up, inside a bedroom on the north east side of the house. She stated he was fine and she 'gave him room to rollover because he does rollover'. I asked her if the infant had previously rolled over and she stated, 'Oh yeah, he rolls over,'" states the officer's report.

Vice allegedly told the officer when she checked on the infant, "he was laying on the bed chest down with his face facing east."

"She picked up the infant while coaxing him and took him into the living room," the incident report states. "She stated the infant wasn't making any noises. She started to check the infant and directed (another person in the home) to call 911."

According to the indictment, the defendant "knowingly acted in a manner that created a substantial risk to life, body and health,” states the indictment.

A hearing is scheduled in Clay County Circuit Court for Feb. 18. 

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at or 903-6001.

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