Coroner rules child's death a homicide

Mother faced with second-degree murder in case

Shay Randle

The Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office recently classified the death of a child left in a car as a homicide.

Natalie Thornton, 31, of Magnolia Knee Drive in rural Lafayette Parish, faces charges of second-degree murder after reportedly leaving her 8-month-old daughter in running car with the heater on for five hours on Mother's Day.

The coroner's report says the cause of death was hypothermia.

Lt. Craig Stansbury, Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department spokesman, said the investigation is still pending, and the district attorney's office will decide whether the charges will be upgraded or not.

As of now, the case has not been turned over to the district attorney's office.

Thornton allegedly told police that she had returned home with her daughter from a family gathering on May 11. She said she parked the car and went inside, leaving her daughter in the running car with the heater on.

Police say she returned to the car five hours later and found her daughter unresponsive. She drove around until she spotted a city police officer and notified him of the incident.

Stansbury said Thornton has been transferred to Vermilion Parish Jail.

She was originally incarcerated in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center with a $500,000 bond.