Police: Mom burns child in oven

By Marty Roney
Montgomery Advertiser

Local News -
June 12, 2002



COOSADA – State and local authorities have charged a Coosada woman with
attempted murder after she placed her 14-month-old daughter in a hot
oven – at the urging, she told authorities, of voices in her head.

Melissa Wright, 26, of 100 Harm’s Way, Lot 10, is being held in the
Elmore County Jail on $250,000 bond.

The baby, whose name officials wouldn’t release, was listed in guarded
condition in the burn center at the Children’s Hospital in
said Diane Black, hospital spokeswoman. The child has third-degree burns
over more than 30 percent of her body, 19th Circuit District Attorney
Randall Houston said.

The anguished cries of the child from inside the oven brought her
father, Robert Lynn Smith, into the kitchen, and he removed the baby,
Houston said.

“At first the mother told us the baby fell in the oven and the door
slammed shut,”
Houston said. “We don’t believe that, because the
evidence doesn’t support it. Then she said voices told her to put the
baby in the oven.”

Investigators don’t know what temperature the oven was set at, or how
long the child was inside. The case is being investigated by the Coosada
Police Department,
Elmore County Sheriff’s Department and Alabama Bureau
of Investigation.

Wright may be in jail a long time, Sheriff Bill Franklin said.

“I told my people that before anyone bonds her out, they must see me
Franklin said. “I’m not going to accept a property bond. It’s
going to be a cash bond. She needs to stay in jail until her trial comes

Wright also has a 7-year-old daughter. The Department of Human Resources
has taken that child into custody,
Houston said.

The neighborhood where Wright lives is just off
Coosada Parkway. The
circular drive leads to about 10 mobile homes. Most sport well-kept
yards. No one answered a knock on the door at Wright’s home Monday. A
teen-age girl, baby-sitting at a nearby mobile home, said no one had
been home all day. Several neighbors declined to give their names when
approached for comment.

Houston, a veteran prosecutor, is enraged by the case.

“I have worked child abuse cases before, and you never get used to
them,” he said. “Abusing any child is horrible. But in this case, we are
talking about a baby, who is dependent on adults for everything. You
can’t get any more helpless or defenseless than a baby.”