Angela Phakhin, 27, and Untwan Smith, 46, face child endangerment charges.
“They put the child in a risky situation that most likely caused her death,” Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sergeant Tony Turnbull said. “That’s why they were arrested for the child endangerment at this point.”
According to police, an officer spotted a white Toyota RAV4 parked the wrong way on Rod Beaudry Drive in Rancho Cordova. The officer spoke to Smith and Phakhin near the vehicle, and determined they were the owners of the car.
Police said Phakhin is the girl’s mother, and Smith is her boyfriend. They arrived in the Sacramento area from Arkansas in February, living out of their car.
“I know they had enough time to apply for and to get benefits, to get food stamps,” Turnbull said.
A records check revealed Smith had an outstanding warrant out of Arkansas for fraud.
Phakhin’s brother told KTXL’s sister station KFSM in Fort Smith, Arkansas that the couple left the state a few months ago. They were told Phakhin and Smith were headed for Texas, but had no idea where they were until they learned Phakhin’s daughter was dead.
Officers began searching the car and found a toddler under some blankets in the back seat. The child was unresponsive and was declared dead at the scene. There were no obvious signs of trauma.
The child’s cause of death will be determined by the Sacramento County coroner’s office.
Phakhin and Smith were booked into jail and are being held on $1 million bail. They are set to appear in court on Friday.