Holmes County Sheriff John Tate held a press conference in the case of the death of a toddler. Pictured from left: Investigator Bill Pate, Tate, Investigator Brett Wilson and Investigator Jason Stafford. [BLAKELY HITZELBERGER | THE NEWS AND ADVERTISER]

Holmes County Sheriff John Tate held a press conference May 17 regarding the death of 2-year-old Margie June McLean.

At 3:43 p.m. on May 16, Holmes County Dispatch received a 911 call from a hysterical female, and within two minutes a HCSO deputy arrived on scene of a house on Highway 81 in Prosperity. The deputy was met by an individual carrying an unresponsive child. The deputy immediately began administering CPR on the child until EMS arrived and took over. The child was pronounced deceased at 3:59 p.m. by Holmes County EMS.

The mother of the child, 23-year-old Kathreen Adams, told investigators she had found the child unresponsive in the house. HCSO transported Adams and the father, 32-year-old Christopher McLean, to the sheriff’s office to begin interviews in order to piece together what happened. After piecing together clues both from the scene and interviews, HCSO requested that EMS take a body temperature of the child which was determined to be 107 degrees. It was then, Tate said, they knew something wasn’t adding up.

HCSO investigators responded late Tuesday afternoon to a residence in the Prosperity community after it was reported that a child was unresponsive. [JENNIFER RICH | THE NEWS AND ADVERTISER]
“With interviews from the parents and witnesses on scene, it was determined that the child had been in a car,†Tate said. “When the mother was confronted with the information, she was forthcoming and admitted the child had been in the car.â€

The mother told investigators that she had gotten off work from the Tom Thumb in Ponce de Leon around midnight and went to pick her children, a 4-year-old boy and 2-year-old Margie, from the babysitter’s home. After arriving at home, both Adams and McLean decided to leave Margie in the car because she was sleeping. 

“The parents ultimately fell asleep after smoking marijuana and did not wake up or realize she was still in the car until 3:41 the next afternoon when they found her unresponsive,†Tate said. “There is still a gray area of time from when they found the child and when they called 911. We are investigating that part and trying to piece together the puzzle. Adams admitted to leaving the child in the car for around 14 hours. McLean has been uncooperative with the investigation. He invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and said he did not wish to speak to us at that time.â€

Search warrants were executed on the residence and the car. Inside the home, numerous bags of methamphetamine were found – with some being in the child’s bag – marijuana, CBD gummies, methamphetamine smoking pipes and various other illegal items. FDLE began forensic testing on the car this morning.

Kathreen Adams

The Department of Children and Families and Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center were on scene to assist in the investigation along with the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office.

Both Adams and McLean have been arrested and are charged with child neglect, possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. Additional charges are expected after the completion of blood tests and the autopsy which was scheduled for the afternoon of May 17. 

“They are currently in our jail under $48,000 or $50,000 bonds,†Tate said. “There will be more charges coming but I can’t say when. Once we get the forensic test results back, we will confer with the State Attorney’s Office and they will face some type of manslaughter or murder charges.â€

Christopher McLean

The 4-year-old is in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. According to Adams’ statement, the 4-year-old had gotten out of the car and came into the house. Tate says HCSO is investigating that particular part of the incident as well.

Sheriff Tate says the biggest message to the public in cases such as this is simply, “Don’t do drugs.â€

“I honestly believe that methamphetamine is the culprit behind this death,†Tate said. “When you use drugs, you lose sense of reality and this kind of stuff happens. If they weren’t on drugs, we probably wouldn’t be here today. We are ultimately here today to get justice for that 2-year-old,†said Tate.

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