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Questions Remain In Death Of Durham Mother, Child

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DURHAM, N.C. — A young Durham mother and her newborn baby died in their apartment in November. No signs of violence, carbon monoxide or drugs were found at the scene. Now, an autopsy report is still raising questions for the family.

In late November at Durham's Morreene Road Apartments, 22-year-old Nakeidra Gunn and her 9-day-old daughter Tayanna Cofield were found dead. The mother and infant appeared healthy when they were dropped off on a Friday night, but their bodies were discovered the following Sunday.

Gunn's 2-year-old son Tayshawn was found unharmed in the same apartment. Police found no signs of foul play.

"There was pain," said Gunn's aunt, Wanda Elliott. "There was heartfelt pain. We didn't lose one person -- we lost two."

Gunn's grieving family hoped an autopsy would help them understand what happened, but it didn't. A recently released medical examiner's report showed the young mother died from postpartum endometritis -- acute inflammation from a possible infection of her uterus.

Confused family members said after delivering at Durham Regional Hospital, Gunn was given a clean bill of health.

"She wasn't complaining about a fever," said Elliott. "She wasn't complaining about abdominal pain. She wasn't throwing up. None of this stuff. When we last saw her, it was a fine, normal young lady."

The autopsy for the baby is not yet complete. But police indicate that without her mother's care, the newborn dehydrated.

Again, the family is skeptical. They say the 2-year-old had a dry diaper and was not overly hungry.

"We certainly think foul play (was involved)," Elliott said.

Relatives pointed to the autopsy and questioned where scratches came from on Gunn's arm, as well as a bruise on her head. They want more tests, more investigation and more answers.

"But the point is, we have no answers to those questions," said Elliott. "And as a family, that's what we're seeking."

Gunn's mother now has custody of Tayshawn. The family has had limited contact with the children's father since the death.

Despite the family's concerns, Durham police consider the case closed.


Cullen Browder, Reporter
Richard Adkins, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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