A three-year-old girl who died of hypothermia after spending the night in an unheated corridor with outside temperatures of -15C had been sleepwalking, claims her mother.
Angelina Kuleshova was found dead near the front door of her home by her mother Svetlana the morning after her younger sister’s first birthday party.
But reports claim the girl may have been put outside deliberately after the party turning into a drunken adult event.
"I put Angelina to bed and she fell asleep before midnight," Svetlana told local police in the town of Satka, Russia.
"We watched a little TV and went to bed too.
"When we woke up in the morning [of December 5], we did not find her in her bed. We found her in the hall. She was lying on the floor."
Angelina was prone to sleepwalking and must have wandered out into the freezing cold corridor without waking up, her mother insists.
"She was a sleepwalker. [She] went to the hall and failed to return back," she said.
"Most likely she couldn’t find the door handle in the dark and could not get back in."
But according to local news website Crimea.KP there are allegations Svetlana left little Angelina out in the cold on purpose.
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They claim the child’s birthday celebrations had turned into a raucous adult party and that Angelina had been turned out into the cold because she was "getting in the way".
Svetlana, 23, denies the allegations, saying "They write this, but it's not true," she said.
"She went to bed, then we went to bed, and when we woke up, she was in the hallway. It was an accident."
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The police have launched a criminal case against Svetlana, accusing her of causing death through negligence. She faces up to two years in jail if convicted.
Local law enforcement official Mikhail Krokhin believes Svetlana’s story. He told reporters: "The investigation established that the girl left the indoor area of the house on her own.
"She walked in the hall where she suffered from hypothermia and died."
Official psychologists plan to question Svetlana in order to determine whether she is telling the truth, the prosecutor's office in Satka said.
Until the facts of the case are definitively established, however, Svetlana’s baby daughter has been taken away from her by Russian social services.
The child is reportedly staying in an orphanage until the investigation is over at the very earliest.
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