3-year-old girl drowns; mom faces murder charge

January 14, 2010 

PATTERSON — A 3-year-old girl is dead and her 23-year-old mother is facing a murder charge in connection with the child's drowning, authorities said today.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Capt. Tim David said the child was pronounced dead at 9:50 p.m. Thursday, about four hours after deputies were called to a home in the 400 block of Thrush Drive.

The woman was identified as Jennifer Lynn Bigham, 23. The toddler was identified as Alexandrea Bigham. Both are from Castro Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area.

David said when deputies arrived, the toddler was found in the bathtub under water. CPR was performed on the child, who was then flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

He said the woman was found with self-inflicted superficial stab wounds to her upper body. She was treated at Doctors Medical Center then sent to the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center at 12:30 a.m.

She was charged on suspicion of murder and child abuse causing death.

David did not know of a motive.

"She didn't want to talk, make any statements or discuss what happened," David said. "Just based on statements from others who were there ... the victim's location and her location. There was enough evidence to have probable cause that the mother was directly involved in the death of the child."

Winter said there were at least three family members home at the time of the incident. They are believed to be cousins of Bigham, who had been staying there temporarily for less than a week, Winter said.

The Patterson Irrigator newspaper reported that the home is owned by David Silvey. He declined to tell the newspaper by telephone his family's relationship with Bigham.

A Bee reporter knocked on the door of the home Friday afternoon, but nobody answered.

A family member, along with a neighbor who had heard "commotion" at the house, called 9-1-1.

David said he believed that the father was not involved in the child's upbringing, although that could not be confirmed. The father, who lives in the Hayward area, was informed of the death this morning.

"We're as puzzled as anyone," David said.

A next-door neighbor, Angel Barradas, told the Patterson Irrigator newspaper: “She just said, ‘Call 9-1-1; I need help.’ I was just concerned about her baby, her child.”

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