A woman is being investigated by the police after her one-year-old daughter was found dead in her pool and the autopsy revealed the cause of death was not drowning.
Heloisa was found dead in the swimming pool at her home, where she lived with her mother and grandmother in the Brazilian municipality of Juquitiba last month.
According to reports, the trio and the boyfriend of Heloisa’s mother were at the house the night before the little girl was found dead and empty beer cans were found close to the pool.
Heloisa’s mother and grandmother, whose names have not been revealed, told police they found the one-year-old in the pool after leaving her alone for a few moments.
The baby’s tragic death initially appeared to be an accident.
However, an autopsy found no water in her lungs, stomach, windpipe or pharynx, and the hypothesis of death by drowning was ruled out.
The cause of death was later found to be a spinal cord injury, which Heloisa’s mother’s lawyer Andre Devitte has said may have been caused by the youngster falling in or near the pool and then toppling into the water.
A spinal cord injury means damage messages from the brain are prevented from reaching the body and if it occurs high enough, can stop breathing and even the heartbeat, leading to death.
The lawyer said the reason no water was found in her body may have been because the spinal cord injury was severe enough to stop the youngster from breathing.
Girl's grandparents dispute mother's version of events
But other family members don't believe this version of events, with Heloisa’s maternal grandfather Edson Nascimento suspecting his granddaughter was thrown into the pool already dead after suffering the injury.
Mr Nascimento has hired a lawyer, Felipe dos Santos Camargo, who has said his client did not believe the child could have fallen over of her own accord with enough force to cause a spinal cord injury and then end up in the pool as well.
The grandfather told local news channel R7: "Something really happened that is being hidden."
When asked by a reporter if he thought his own daughter was lying, he replied: "Yes; I believe she is lying."
Heloisa’s paternal grandmother Nalva Maria also suspects her former daughter-in-law and the woman’s mother of hiding the truth about what really happened.
She pointed out the two had posted photos to social media showing themselves smiling and drinking with friends just two weeks after the incident.
Mr Devitte has denied his client was not in mourning, claiming psychologists and psychiatrists recommended social interaction following a bereavement as a way of reducing the pain.
Mr Nascimento has revealed his daughter was constantly drinking and partying, and posting photos of the social gatherings at her home to social media.
Police are investigating the case and have questioned close to 20 people so far, including relatives from both sides of the family and friends of the suspects.
The investigation is ongoing.
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