Bossier Undersheriff Doyle Dempsey says the stepmother of a 5 year old girl who was pronounced dead at W.K. Pierremont on Thursday, January 13, 2011, has been charged with first degree murder.

Catherine Murray Lowe, 34, was already being held in the Bossier Maximum Security Facility on a charge of negligent homicide in connection with the death of Anna Celeste Lowe, her stepdaughter.  Bossier Sheriff’s investigators say Catherine Murray’s two biological children were present Wednesday, January 12, 2011, some time between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., when Catherine Murray followed Anna Celeste into a bathroom at their Sunset Villa mobile home in south Bossier.  Shortly after that, they say they heard a very loud thump and when they went to the bathroom, Anna Celeste was lying on the floor in obvious pain and was vomiting.

Eventually, Catherine Murray Lowe and her husband, Wesley Dwayne Lowe, 32, were taken into custody after the medical staff at W.K. Pierremont contacted the Bossier Sheriff’s Department regarding Anna Celeste, who was brought to the emergency room by Catherine Murray and Wesley Dwayne.  The emergency room staff told Bossier Sheriff’s investigators that the child arrived at the hospital at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 13, 2011, and tests that were conducted indicate the time of death to be approximately 2 hours prior to the child’s arrival.

The emergency room staff also told Bossier Sheriff’s detectives that Wesley Dwayne and Catherine Murray gave contradictory statements, alleging that the child had been in and out of consciousness during the twenty minute drive to the hospital.  The emergency room staff noticed bruising and trauma over the entirety of the child’s body.

The Bossier Parish Deputy Coroner also noted that “rigor mortis” had begun taking effect and was present in the child’s facial area.  An autopsy was immediately scheduled by Bossier Parish Coroner, Dr. John Chandler, and performed.  The cause of death was determined to be the result of internal injuries and bleeding into the body cavity.  Bossier Sheriff’s investigators, in conjunction with Chandler, say Anna Celeste’s stomach was detached from her intestines and her liver was lacerated in two places.

After the autopsy, Bossier Sheriff’s investigators immediately contacted the child’s biological father, Wesley Dwayne, and her stepmother, Catherine Murray, and conducted formal interviews with them at the Bossier Sheriff’s Department detective office.  The father and mother gave contradictory statements regarding the child’s injuries and discounted her continuous vomiting and extreme abdominal pain as something caused by a common stomach virus.

The child was subsequently held out of school on Thursday, January 13, 2011, and brought to Catherine Murray’s place of employment, near Benton, at approximately 7:30 a.m.  Co-workers later told Bossier Sheriff’s investigators that the child was a pale blue color and unable to walk or stand on her own.  Co-workers say they told Catherine Murray to seek medical attention for the child immediately and feared for her health and safety.  Catherine Murray told investigators she then left her place of employment and began making the long drive back to her residence in Elm Grove.

During the long trip home, Catherine Murray stopped at a grocery store in Bossier City, leaving the dying child alone in the vehicle as she went inside to purchase “Gatorade.”  Catherine Murray then returned to her vehicle and continued the long drive back to her residence in Elm Grove.  Catherine Murray passed several hospitals on the way and made absolutely no attempt to obtain necessary and critical medical attention for the dying child.  Catherine Murray subsequently returned to her residence, and from there, she and Wesley Dwayne transported the child to W.K. Pierremont by private vehicle.

Based on statements made by Wesley Dwayne, Catherine Murray, Catherine Murray’s co-workers and medical professionals, Bossier Sheriff’s investigators concluded that Wesley Dwayne and Catherine Murray intentionally neglected to provide the child with the timely and critical medical attention she desperately needed for fear of law enforcement and Child Protective Services intervention.  As a result, Wesley Dwayne and Catherine Murray are currently charged with negligent homicide.

In addition, based on the statements of Catherine Murray’s children and others, Bossier Sheriff’s investigators have concluded Catherine Murray had specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm to Anna Celeste, and as a result, she has been charged with first degree murder.