BAKERSFIELD, Cal. (KSNT) – A couple, with ties to Topeka, is behind bars following the death of their 18-day-old baby. The tiny victim isn’t the first infant to die in the couple’s care.
Gage and Debra Roberts, both 22, are a married couple from Topeka. They are both facing charges of second-degree murder and child cruelty. Detectives were suspicious of the pair after learning
that they had another baby die in a nearly identical way.
On April 24 2016, officers walked into a Bakersfield hotel room and found an unconscious infant on the floor. They said a hotel maid was performing CPR.”I remember waking up, realizing that he was gone, and I tried CPR-that didn’t work, and I realized that wasn’t going to work, so I kind of freaked out a little bit, so I took a shower”, said the baby’s father, Gage Roberts.
Roberts said he tried to revive his baby by splashing hot water on him. When that didn’t work, he says he took a shower because he was in shock-something detectives took note of according to reports.
Roberts said he and his wife Deborah were both in the hotel room with their 18-day-old baby boy, named Crimson, when the child passed. Roberts said as he realized baby Crimson was dead, he said he had a haunting thought: “Oh my god, not again”.
Roberts said he and his wife had another baby boy die, in a similar way, less than a year before, in Topeka. He said that baby, named Camden Behr Michael Roberts, was six months old when he died unexpectedly. Roberts said the coroner told him the baby’s cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. A Topeka Police report obtained by KSNT News shows that Camden died on November 11, 2015, at 2420 SW Valley Brook Lane.
According to KGET-TV, in Bakersfield, Roberts is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. He said not long after their first child’s death, the church moved him and his then pregnant wife to Bakersfield, California, where they paid for them to stay in the hotel.
KGET-TV asked Roberts if he killed both of his children. He responded: “No. If I had then I would’ve disappeared.”
According to reports, detectives felt physical evidence didn’t line up with Roberts’ story about sleeping with the infant and waking up to him not breathing. During an interview with his wife Debra, she told police she felt her husband was responsible for the deaths of both babies and admitted she didn’t do anything to protect them. Roberts said his wife only said that because “when there’s a lot of pressure on one person, the first thing they’re gonna do is deflect it in any way possible.”
Roberts said just hours after his wife gave birth to a third baby boy, the two were arrested on July 21.
Debra and Gage Roberts are scheduled to be formally charged in a Bakersfield court Tuesday. Meanwhile, Bakersfield Police say they’re working with Kansas detectives-who are investigating the death of Camden, the couple’s first child.
UPDATE: An arraignment hearing for Debra and Gage Roberts was continued Tuesday. The couple will return to court in Bakersfield on August 1.