By JIM SALTER
ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) - A 3-year-old Missouri girl may have been alone in an apartment with her dead mother for up to four days, apparently surviving on Popsicles while she thought her mother was asleep.
Deputies in St. Charles County near St. Louis were called Sunday night to the small apartment of 35-year-old Adrienne Embry, after her sister found her decomposing body in bed.
Embry's 3-year-old daughter was alone in the apartment with the body, but appeared to be physically OK, Sheriff's Lt. Craig McGuire said Tuesday. Embry's sister took the child to a hospital for evaluation.
McGuire said it did not appear that the child was aware that her mother had died.
"She was too young to comprehend what was going on," McGuire said.
Embry recently had surgery and authorities believe she may have died of complications. The county medical examiner was investigating the cause of death, but foul play was not suspected.
Embry's ex-husband, Eli Britton, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the little girl survived on Popsicles. Britton is not the girl's father but said he and Embry have five other children together. Deputies weren't sure if any of the other children lived with Embry, but none were there when the body was found.
The girl's father lives in Florida and apparently has had little or no contact with her, McGuire said. The girl is staying with her mother's sister.
It wasn't clear how long Embry had been dead. Deputies estimated it was two to four days based on evidence at the scene, including the level of decomposition of the body, McGuire said.
Britton said his ex-wife's surgery was for weight loss. He told the newspaper he was not aware of any complications, but he last spoke with her on May 11. He tried to call her on Thursday but the call was not answered.
Embry's sister had spoken with her four days earlier, but became concerned when she hadn't heard from here since then and went to the apartment to check on her, McGuire said. That's when she found the body.
McGuire said there have been many instances when a small child has called 911 to report a parent in distress. In this case, he said, the girl was simply too young to know what to do.
"That's why it's important for neighbors to check on neighbors and relatives to check on relatives," McGuire said.