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Jasmine Rose Maxwell, two months

Jasmine Rose Maxwell, a nearly two-month old black girl, died Friday, Aug. 10, in the 500 block of S. San Pedro St. in Downtown, according to the Los Angeles County coroner.

Jasmine died of starvation and dehydration at a Skid Row homeless shelter.

The following is an excerpt from a story on her death by Times reporters Richard Winton and Jack Leonard:

The call came last week to the county's child welfare hotline from an employee at the Union Rescue Mission.

Something seemed wrong with the 2-month-old girl who had arrived with her mother at the skid row shelter in June. The mother was acting strangely, mission employee Carol Picott said, and she worried that the baby was in danger.

Picott said she made the call Aug. 7. The next day, a county social worker arrived at the shelter but could not find the baby or her mother, county and mission officials said. On Aug. 9, they said, she returned and talked at length with the mother and evaluated the infant. The social worker was sufficiently reassured, so she left the child with the mother.

A day later, the baby was dead.

Some mission workers had stopped the mother, Ranetta Maxwell, 32, as she was about to leave the shelter Aug. 10 carrying her dead baby, Jasmine, in her arms.

"She had dressed the baby and was caring for the baby," said Andy Bales, director of the mission. "I don't know if she fully comprehended what had occurred."

The death raises new questions about how the infant fell through the cracks of a system designed to protect children on skid row.

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