The Missouri mother who told police she accidentally cooked her baby to death had suffered from mental illness for years, a longtime friend told The Daily Beast on Sunday.
Mariah Thomas, 26, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and faces a decade or more in prison in connection with the death of her 1-month-old daughter Za'Riah.
According to a police affidavit, Thomas told her parents – who were not home at the time – that she had gone to put the baby down for a nap and mistakenly put him in the oven at place of the cradle.
Responding officers found the baby covered in “thermal” burns, his onesie melted into his diaper.
It was not immediately clear whether authorities accepted Thomas' explanation for his child's death, and his family did not respond to requests for comment.
But a close friend, who asked not to be identified amid a wave of vitriol against Thomas and her family on social media, said they did not believe she deliberately killed the child.
“Mariah has suffered from mental illness since she was a child,” the friend said, adding that Thomas told her she stopped taking medication for her condition while she was pregnant.
The friend said she asked if Thomas had started taking his medication again after the baby was born.
'She said no.' And I said, 'But you're not pregnant anymore.' And that's when she laughed and I said that's not funny,” she said .
Thomas' mental health further deteriorated after giving birth, the friend said, pointing to posts Thomas made on Facebook and TikTok in which she claimed people only cared about her because she had a baby.
“I’m done being fucking nice,” Thomas wrote January 15th. “Like I said before, you're only fucking with me because of my daughter and I said what I said.”
Throughout the month, Thomas repeatedly posted about feeling lonely or having no friends.
“She thought everyone only loved her because her daughter was born, and she didn’t like that at all,” the friend said. “She also wanted everyone's attention, just like Za'Riah got attention.”
She said Thomas – who also posted about the joy of being a mother – truly loved her baby and would never want to hurt her. “I know Mariah didn’t do it on purpose,” the friend said.
Thomas lived with her parents, but her mother left for work on Friday and her father left to look for work, leaving her alone with Za'Riah. A few hours later, Thomas called his mother, hysterical, to tell her something was wrong with the baby.
Police were summoned and were told she had told her father: “I thought I put Za'riah in the crib but I accidentally put her in the oven. »
The friend said she couldn't believe it when she heard the news.
“She didn’t want to hurt her baby,” she said. “She loved her baby very much.”