Preliminary findings from the Brevard County medical examiner's office reveal that an 11-month-old girl died from overheating as a result of being left in a vehicle for three hours while her mother officiated a church service in Palm Bay last month, court records show.
Palm Bay police detectives said that the infant had an internal temperature of 108.5 degrees less than an hour after she was pulled out of her mother’s vehicle, which was parked at the storefront church, and rushed to the hospital.
Less than a week later, police charged Bulain Molme, 37, co-pastor at Mount of Olives Evangelical Baptist Church, with one count of aggravated manslaughter of a child in connection with the May 28 death of Fendra Molme. The arrest came after detectives worked with prosecutors to determine culpability in the case. Molme was booked into the Brevard County Jail Complex. Her bond was set at $15,000, jail records show. She was ordered to surrender her passport and released June 2.
An autopsy was conducted on May 30. The medical examiner's preliminary report indicated that the child had no sign of trauma or older injuries and that she likely died of hyperthermia, or overheating, as a result of being left in the vehicle, court records show.
The mother told detectives that in the rush to get to services, she had believed the baby was with a church member during the service that followed, Detective Thomas Danti wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Court documents show the Molmes were devoted to their family and were readying for church as usual that Sunday morning. Molme told authorities she was running a little late but turned up about 10:20 a.m. The Mount of Olives Evangelical Baptist Church — a predominantly Haitian congregation — was celebrating Haitian Mother’s Day, with Molme speaking, when the tragedy unfolded.
Palm Bay Police were called to the site at about 1:10 p.m. and found the father, church co-pastor Jn Molme, and others attempting to revive the unresponsive infant. The baby was rushed to Palm Bay Hospital, where doctors were unable to revive her, police said.
Nearly 40 minutes Fendra — just two days shy of her first birthday — was pulled from the back seat of the Ford Expedition. After 911 was called, the child’s internal temperature hovered at 108.5 degrees, court records show.
“I was unable to speak with the defendant, who was on scene because she was inconsolable and hysterical,” Detective Danti wrote.
The infant had a "good breakfast," the mother told officers, then fell asleep in the vehicle.
Detectives talked to witnesses and pulled surveillance video from a nearby liquor store in the same plaza.
The video shows Bulain Molme pulling into the Babcock Street plaza at 10:21 a.m. The couple’s three older children can be seen going into the storefront church. Molme went to the trunk to pull out her Bible and laptop, records show. She also removed a blanket from the front of the vehicle.
Despite Molme’s statement to police that she thought a church member came out to help, no other adult approached the vehicle to help the mother of four, police said.
Minutes later, Molme took to the stage to lead the church in prayer and song as her husband played piano and her 8-year-old son played drums while two other children were in a side room, court records show. Her husband told police he saw his older children and from a distance, a woman with a child that he thought was Fendra.
After services, Molme was greeting members when one of them asked about Fendra, court records show. Molme then ran for the Expedition and found the infant, hot, limp and still strapped in the vehicle.
"Would I be able to sit down behind this piano again? Please we need your prayer more than ever," Jn Molme, wrote on a Facebook page populated with pictures of Fendra, his youngest child.
During the course of the investigation, DCF talked to the parents and asked for a drug test. There were no records indicating the family had been in contact with the social service agency or had any criminal history, police reported. The parents were also cooperative with police, answering questions and sitting for interviews. Witnesses described the pastors as "caring," court records show.
The Molme family did not immediately return calls to FLORIDA TODAY.
No trial date has been set.
A funeral for Fendra will be held at 9 a.m. June 10 at the First Baptist Church of Melbourne.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Brevard medical examiner says infant died of overheating in Palm Bay case