Neighbors anxious for answers about death of baby in burning East Side home

Medical examiner, police, arson team still investigating

SAN ANTONIO – It has been nearly a week since San Antonio firefighters found an 18-month-old baby dead inside a burning East Side home, the site of what authorities are calling a suspicious fire, and some key questions about the situation remain unanswered.

Neighbors called firefighters to the 600 block of Gulf around 8 p.m. last Thursday. They quickly began putting out the blaze.

Neighbors also had tried to help, some using water hoses on the fire, while others kicked in the door to ensure no one was trapped inside.

San Antonio police said it was only after Tyler Jannel Terry, 22, and her boyfriend, Charles Shorts, 26, arrived at the scene that anyone realized there was a baby inside the home. Police said the couple left Terry’s daughter, whom they identified as 18-month-old Taliyah Edwards, home alone.

Police arrested Terry and Shorts at the scene on a charge of abandoning a child.

"That was an innocent baby. She didn't ask to be in this world. And to go out like that, it's unthinkable,” said Tim Bright, a neighbor.

Bright said he was surprised to learn that after their arrests, the couple was released on bond.

Police said their investigation into this case is ongoing, and it’s possible additional charges could be filed.

As of Wednesday morning, the Bexar County medical examiner’s office still had not released any information about the baby, including the cause of death.  A staff member said certain tests related to the autopsy could take up to eight weeks to yield results.

Arson investigators also remained at a loss for some answers. Although they’ve declared the fire was suspicious, they still had not isolated the exact cause as of Wednesday morning.

“The Fire Department's been out and the investigators and all,” said Bridget Campbell, a neighbor. “We're just wondering what's taking so long. We would like to hear more about, you know, what actually happened."

Campbell said she has been touched to see a steadily growing pile of stuffed animals outside the home, a tribute to baby Taliyah. She said although she didn’t know the couple or the baby, the death has hit home for her.

Not far from that makeshift memorial, though, was a stark reminder of the ongoing criminal investigation — a red gasoline container sitting on a ledge just above the pile of toys.

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