BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Horrified motorists sprang from their cars Friday to stop a woman who was repeatedly slamming her 7-month-old daughter onto a concrete sidewalk, police said. The baby later died of massive head trauma.
Kirsten Vanderlinde, 36, who receives mental health care as an outpatient, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Melissa Vanderlinde-Berst.
Police had checked on Vanderlinde twice shortly before the attack. A neighbor said she had called a crisis intervention center two days earlier, after Vanderlinde, fearing she was a bad mother, asked her to take custody of the child.
But the neighbor, Millicent Turrentine, said she never thought Vanderlinde would hurt Melissa. ``She's never acted anything but loving to the baby,'' she said.
Witnesses said a woman wearing a nightgown and slippers was holding the baby by her ankles Friday morning and chanting: ``Where's my TV? Where's my phone? Where's my peace? Where's my nice home? Where's my justice?''
``She was viciously swinging the baby and smashing the baby into the ground,'' police Capt. Mark Morgan said. ``I don't even like saying it ... because it's so hard to think of.''
A man ran to the woman and wrested the baby from her arms. Police arrived and tackled Vanderlinde.
Vanderlinde allegedly killed the baby just outside her apartment building, minutes after an officer checked on her at the request of another officer, who had driven her home after finding her walking with the baby shortly after 6 a.m.
Morgan said the two police officers who encountered Vanderlinde earlier in the morning had concluded the baby was not in danger.
``The baby was fine. The house was fine. The mother said 'I'm fine,''' he said. ``Obviously, it is unusual for someone to be walking around with a baby at six o'clock but unfortunately it's not against the law.''
On Wednesday, Vanderlinde asked Turrentine to take custody of Melissa. The late-night request prompted Turrentine to call a Crisis Services, a private, nonprofit crisis intervention center.
``I felt uneasy,'' said Turrentine. ``I said `I think the mom is stressed out. I don't think she can hack it.'
``It broke my heart today,'' Turrentine said in her living room overlooking the sidewalk where the attack occurred. ``I hate that I just didn't take the baby from her.''
A spokeswoman for Crisis Services declined to comment, citing a policy of confidentiality. Kevin Helfer, commissioner of the county's social services agency, said his agency had not been contacted.