Mother charged in infant’s death is soldier assigned to National Guard
by Rachael Brown
rbrown@annistonstar.com
Aug 13, 2013 | 9503 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fort McClellan Readiness Center parking lot. The mother of a 4-month-old found unresponsive in a car Friday is a soldier assigned to the center. Photo by Stephen Gross.
The Fort McClellan Readiness Center parking lot. The mother of a 4-month-old found unresponsive in a car Friday is a soldier assigned to the center. Photo by Stephen Gross.
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The mother of a 4-month-old boy who died Friday is an active duty Army soldier assigned to an Alabama National Guard unit at McClellan, a National Guard public affairs officer said this morning.

Sgt. 1st Class Katherine Elizabeth Papke, 35, was assigned to the 167th Theater Sustainment Command a year and a half ago, according to Capt. Andrew Richardson, public affairs officer for the Alabama National Guard.

Police said they discovered Papke’s infant, Bennett Owen Smith, unresponsive Friday afternoon in a parking lot on the 400 block of Goode Road. The McClellan Readiness Center is located on Goode Road and is the headquarters for the unit to which Papke is assigned, Richardson said.

The captain described the Readiness Center as a training facility used to keep soldiers current on skills for missions in the U.S. and abroad.

Papke’s job is to plan training and operations for the unit, Richardson said. The captain said he could not discuss Papke’s personnel status, but said this morning that she was still a member of the unit.

“We’re very deeply saddened at the loss of an infant child. It’s a tragedy for the community and for everyone,” Richardson said.

Richardson said a chaplain was made available immediately to the grieving mother.

Anniston police said this morning they were still waiting to release a cause of death pending the infant’s preliminary autopsy results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Huntsville.

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

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