Woman accused of smothering infant daughter denied mental health court

Local News

PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — A Tazewell County woman who prosecutors believe suffocated her infant daughter was denied mental health court by a judge Thursday morning.

19-year-old Angel Vanduker of Pekin was accused of smothering her infant daughter Nova Tucker in late September 2020. She previously entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter of a family member, a Class Two felony.

Court documents indicate Pekin Police were called to a Pekin home on Monday, Sept. 21 where they found an 11-month-old Nova Tucker unresponsive. She was transported to UnityPoint Pekin Hospital and then to OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria where authorities said she was placed on life support, only to die three days later.

Police said Vanduker originally told them Nova choked on a waffle, but medical personnel said they did not find any food or other obstructions in her airway. Documents show Vanduker then gave police inconsistent statements before telling an officer she was tired and attempted to get the child to lay down with her on the couch.

Vanduker told police because the child would not cooperate, she wrapped her in a blanket and held her tightly to her chest with her hand behind the baby’s head for a number of minutes until the child stopped squirming.

The court filing said Vanduker claimed she fell asleep briefly and found the child unresponsive when she woke up. An autopsy showed the child died of suffocation.

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