Both girls were rushed to Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Barrow, where doctors said their core temperatures were low enough that they were suffering from extreme hypothermia. The 3-year-old required continuous CPR for nearly three hours from both police and medical staff before her heart would beat on its own. Doctors said the 1-year-old, who had bruising and dried blood on and around her mouth, would have stopped breathing as well had she not been brought to the hospital when she was.
The girls were medevaced in critical condition to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, where the 3-year-old died Feb. 4.
At the apartment, officers said they saw signs of drunkenness in Tilden. A blood-alcohol content reading for Tilden came up at 0.164, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit for driving.
“It was noticed Richard had red watery eyes and a moderate odor of alcohol on and about his breath and person,” officers wrote. “Officers on scene noticed that there was two Rich and Rare bottles of whiskey on the floor of the house.”
Edwards-Gust, a second-grade teacher at Fred Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow, told police she’d known Tilden all her life and had been in a relationship with him for several months. Tilden had moved to Barrow in November, where he looked after her two daughters while she was at work. She said Tilden told her he had panicked and removed the children’s clothing.
“Although the defendant stated that she did not know how or why the girls were hypothermic, she said (she) checked in on the girls prior to leaving for work on the morning of February 2, and that the girls were sleeping and wearing clothing in the room where the window was found open,” officers wrote. “The defendant said nothing about the girls’ window being open or closed.”
Tilden told police he’d opened the window on the morning of Feb. 1 to air out the room, because the girls urinated in bed. He then bought the two bottles of whiskey officers saw from Samisoni Kilifi Fotukava, who Edwards-Gust remembered seeing that evening, and drank them. Officers subsequently arrested Fotukava, 20, for selling liquor without a license in Barrow, a “damp” village, after seizing about $1,450 of liquor in a search.
According to Tilden, he put the children in bed at about 9 p.m. on the night of Feb. 1, then went to bed himself at about 2 a.m. He noticed the girls’ condition and called 911 shortly after he woke up, which Tilden estimated at 10:30 a.m. but police say was 12:30 p.m.
Officers found various articles of clothing with dried blood on them in the apartment, while Police Chief Leon Boyea noticed that the inner latch of the girls’ bedroom door was missing -- which meant the door could only be opened from outside the room.
“Chief Boyea was not able to open the door from inside the room,” officers wrote. “Chief Boyea further observed there to be a lack of bedding and blankets in the bedroom.”
Tilden was arrested at the apartment Feb. 2, while Edwards-Gust was arrested a few days later. They were held at the North Slope Borough Correctional Facility on $100,000 bail each.