M.E. says boy allegedly killed by mother died of asphyxiation; father also charged

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — The mother and father of a 17-month-old McKeesport boy are now both charged in connection with his death, Allegheny County police said Thursday night.

Christian Clark, 21, was charged Wednesday with criminal homicide in Andre Price III's death and attempted homicide for attempting to smother her 2-year-old daughter.

According to an Allegheny County police complaint, Clark was arguing with the boy's father, Andre Price Jr., in a cellphone text exchange at the time of her son’s death and is accused of sending Andre Price Jr. a video of the lifeless boy's body and allegedly admitted smothering him.

The medical examiner Thursday ruled Andre’s death as a homicide and listed the cause as asphyxiation.

Allegheny County police responded to an apartment at Hi View Gardens on Tuesday night after Clark called 911. When officers arrived, they found the toddler and Clark inside the apartment, according to the complaint.

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Police transported Andre Price III to UPMC McKeesport Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Clark told a detective at the hospital that her son was a healthy child with no known medical conditions. She said she lived alone with Andre Price III and her 2-year-old daughter.

Clark first told police that she found Price lying unresponsive on an air mattress in the living room of the apartment a short time before she called 911. She said she was alone in the apartment with the children.

According to the complaint, Clark said that Andre Price Jr., 23, had left for work around 2:30 p.m. and had not returned to the apartment. Clark said she'd been arguing with the child’s father earlier in the day because Clark accused Andre Price Jr. of cheating on her.

Clark agreed to go to Allegheny County police headquarters to speak with detectives. Detectives reviewed text messages that spanned two-and-a-half hours between Clark and Andre Price Jr.

According to the complaint, the text messages from Clark to Andre Price Jr. "turn to animus and threats against the children. She was advised the messages included messages stating that she had killed her son and some video messages showed her son's lifeless body."

"She was sending them before the act, during the act and following the act as well,” Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said.

While officers reviewed the messages with Clark, she admitted that she had "pressed her son's face into the bedding of the air mattress" for approximately one minute, according to the complaint. The complaint further stated that Clark admitted she was responsible for her son's death.

Text messages from Clark to Andre Price Jr. state that Clark also tried to smother her 2-year-old daughter. Police said the girl was released from the hospital Wednesday to a family member.

According to the complaint, Clark's two final texts read, "I'm literally going to jail you have a funeral to plan” and "I really snapped this time.”

"It just goes to show how texts have become such a routine part of our lives that people don't even realize the nature of what they're communicating," McDonough said.

  • Read the text messages HERE. WARNING: Some may consider the language and subject matter offensive and disturbing.

"In this case, there's actually a lead up to the actual act, so the defense lawyer will attempt…to suppress all the evidence that leads up to that point," DiLucente said.

Channel 11’s legal expert, Phil DiLucente, said whoever becomes Clark's defense attorney will also likely hire a psychiatrist to see if Clark is mentally fit to stand trial.

"The defense's job is to show she was not in a clear state of mind, she did not understand the extent of her bounty and the actions she was actually taking," DiLucente said.

DiLucente said this could be a death penalty case since there are aggravating circumstances of a child being killed and alleged intent in the text messages.

Andre Price Jr. took to Facebook Wednesday to express his thoughts on the situation.

“People don't know the whole story,” he posted on the social network. “I'm not going to make statuses about my son so please nobody else. Let him rest in peace.”

Authorities said late Thursday that through the course of their investigation, it was determined that on at least one prior occasion Clark had harmed and/or threatened to harm her two children and directed photos of such to Andre Price Jr.

According to the new criminal complaint filed Thursday, the first incident in which Clark threatened her children was on Andre Price III’s first birthday. The complaint stated that Andre Price Jr. posted photos that Clark sent to him of her harming the children on his Facebook page with the caption, “(In) these two pictures, she is choking them because we ain't together….”

Police said it was confirmed that on the night of Andre Price III's death, Andre Price Jr. made no efforts to intervene or call authorities after the text message exchange with Clark.

As a result of his failure to make an attempt to prevent Clark from harming his children, Andre Price Jr. was charged Thursday with two counts of felony endangering the welfare of a child, authorities said.

Andre Price Jr. was taken to the Allegheny County Jail to await arraignment on his charges.

A makeshift memorial consisting of teddy bears, a card and a candle were placed Thursday outside the door of the apartment where Andre Price III was found unresponsive. Some neighbors told Channel 11 News they had seen Clark around the apartment complex, but they didn’t know she had children.

Andre Price Jr. (11/4/16)