The body of a 2-month-old boy whose mother initially said had been abducted by a stranger was found face-down and covered in mud in a shallow, watery grave near Buffalo Bayou in west Houston, prosecutors said Friday.
They also said initial reports from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences showed the baby had mud and water in his lungs, indicating he was alive when buried. The preliminary cause of death was asphyxiation.
The baby's mother, identified as 28-year-old Narjes Modarresi, is in the Harris County Jail with no bail charged with capital murder and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, authorities said.
The new details about the boy's death emerged in a probable cause hearing Friday.
Modarresi originally told police on Wednesday afternoon that she was pushing her son, Mosih Golabbakhsh, in a stroller along the 8000 block of Woodway near Voss when a beige-colored sedan pulled up beside her.
Modarresi told officers a man got out of the car, snatched her 2-month-old son from the stroller, then raced away. There were no threats or demands made of her, said Sgt. Robert Torres, of Houston Police Department's homicide division.
After noticing that the woman had mud on her shoes, HPD officials sent tracking dogs to search the wooded area along a nearby stretch of Buffalo Bayou.
Early Thursday, she led investigators to her son's body in a wooded area just off a cul-de-sac in the 8000 block of Woodway, police said.
Modarresi was taken to HPD headquarters for more detailed questioning. She was later transferred to a hospital for observation, said HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva.
Amir Golabbakhsh said his daughter-in-law was on medication, but wouldn't say what for.
“God help them. Help everybody,” Golabbakhsh said. “The one who passed away and the one who's alive.”
Houston attorney George Parnham said he was retained this morning to represent Modarresi. Parnhman is expected to meet with his client for the first time Saturday.
Parnham is well-known for his defense of Andrea Yates, a Clear Lake mother who was found innocent by reason of insanity in July 2006 in the drowning death of her five children in the family bathtub. She was sent to a state mental health hospital.
Family members who gathered at the couple's apartment in west Houston on Thursday declined to comment.
Jeff Amir, a close family friend, said the mother's relatives mentioned that she suffered from postpartum depression and that she took medication for another unknown condition.
Amir said police have not released any details about the case to the family.
The child's father, Amir Golabbakhsh (who has the same name as his father), a 28-year-old teacher, is in a state of shock, he said.
“He doesn't understand why this happened,” Amir said. “There were no signs to believe something would happen. That's the hardest part. It could have easily been prevented.”
Golabbakhsh and Modarresi, both from Iran, have been married for four years and have another child who is 3 1/2 years old, Amir said.
He said the child's father and grandfather were on their way to Clear Lake on Wednesday when they received a call about the abduction and turned around.
Amir described the baby as “the sweetest child and the apple of eye of the community.”
“It's very devastating,” he said. “It doesn't make any sense.”
Rhoda Seplowitz, a Baylor College of Medicine professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said it was impossible to know what happened given the limited information. But she acknowledged that in cases where a mother is charged in the death of an infant, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis come to mind.
She noted that the risk of suicide and infanticide is much higher for postpartum psychosis, which involves losing touch with reality after childbirth and whose onset tends to occur earlier and more abruptly than postpartum depression. It is also rarer, occurring in 0.01 percent of births, compared with postpartum depression's 8 to 15 percent.
Seplowitz said mothers can be depressed and psychotic, but it is very rare for depression to lead to psychosis. She said postpartum psychosis usually occurs in women with a history of bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis constitutes the first such episode.
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