Baltimore Police are investigating after an autopsy earlier this month showed that the death of 16-month-old boy in 2021 was a homicide.
Austin Nolan Hammond died Sept. 12, 2021, at his babysitter’s home, the boy’s mother said Tuesday.
“I got a call from the babysitters telling me to rush to the house,” said Ashley Hammond, who was at work when it happened. “And they just hung up.”
Southwest District police were summoned at about 9:40 a.m. to the 4300 block of Seminole Avenue for a report of an unresponsive baby, according to a Tuesday news release.
Ashley Hammond said she rushed to the house, where paramedics told her that the boy had died.
“I couldn’t go inside the babysitters’ house. Nothing. I couldn’t even see my son,” she said. Paramedics had tried but failed to resuscitate the child and pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.
The medical examiner’s office notified homicide detectives earlier this month “that the case had been upgraded from a questionable death to a homicide.” Ashley Hammond said she was overwhelmed Tuesday having learned the development.
“It’s been nine months since I buried Austin, and they’ve been giving me very little details of anything,” she said. “I didn’t know the autopsy report was completed until I saw it in the news article today.”
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Austin Hammond was an intelligent baby who was already talking and calling her “mom” and his babysitters by name, she said.
“Austin was happy. He was playful. He loved everyone,” she said. “I used to always brag about him because of how different he was from my daughter. My daughter was so clingy to me. She didn’t want to go to anyone. Austin was the complete opposite.”
She said the babysitters were like family and that she’d known them for 15 years; she’d been a close friend of their daughter’s since she was a teenager.
“Austin loved his babysitters so much. It would be times when he jumped out of my arms to be with them,” she said. “He would happily knock on their door when [I was] dropping him off to them.”
Ashley Hammond said all she and her family can do is wait for answers with no one held accountable for her son’s death.
“He just had so much life to live, and it was just short. It was cut, and his family, his entire family adores time. And we all really miss him,” she said.
In March, a federal team helped clear a backlog of between 200 and 300 cases that had piled up in the overwhelmed Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which is located in Baltimore.
This story has been updated to correct where Austin Hammond died.