GAITHERSBURG, MD (WUSA9) - Every single day in America, between four and five children – and maybe many more – die from child abuse. Lauren Filetti just never thought her baby, Hudson, would be one of them.
Little Hudson's father, Austin Ahimbisibwe, is locked up here on a $2.5 million bail, awaiting trial on a charge with murdering his baby.
Filetti hoped to reach the next parent who might lose his temper with a crying child before it was too late.
“I love the top one. Just me and him. My best friend,” she said, pointing to a wall covered with pictures of her baby.
The young mom has kept every memory of Hudson. His favorite pacifier, the blanket she used to chart his growth, every video of him laughing. Even the heart she wears around her neck.
“This is his initials on it,” she said. “And on the inside are his ashes.”
She had dropped Hudson off her boyfriend's apartment June 23 when she got a phone call at work.
“By the time I got to the hospital, he was already on life support,” she said, crying. “He was not the same Hudson that I knew. He was just lifeless. A part of me knew he wasn’t going to make it.”
Just hours later, with her and the father’s consent, they took Hudson off life support.
“They took all the wires off him, and they let him sit with me for as long as I wanted,” Filetti said.
The father, Ahimbisibwe has now been charged with murdering Hudson. Police said months after the boy's death, he admitted to them that the 5-month-old kept crying, so he held his hand over his mouth until he stopped.
But when Filetti raced to the hospital, she had no idea what he'd done.
“Austin was acting like any parent would act. There was no suspicion,” Flietti said. “He was crying like I was crying.”
Ahimbisibwe never gave her any hint that his son would not be safe with him.
“If Hudson got fussy with me, Austin would take him and console him,” she said.
For four months after the baby’s death, detectives withheld their suspicions from her. She barely slept, searching Google for answers on what might have killed her baby boy.
“Not having an answer was very hard. Now that there is an answer, I don't know if that makes it easier or that much worse, because all I keep thinking is Hudson's not here and he should be.”
Filetti is mad at her ex-boyfriend for a lot of things now, including failing to tell her what he'd allegedly done to their baby, even as he watched her shatter from the grief and mystery.
He faces as much as 70 years in prison.
How do we keep this from happening to the next child?
“No one should ever feel like they can't ask for help,” she said. “Even if you put your baby in crib for a few minutes so you can calm down if you don't have anyone to call.”
Filetti is just 21. Five months after Hudson's death, she still sobs every time she sees a child, every time she sees a baby’s toy, a TV commercial for diapers, even a Halloween costume.
And as she approaches what would have been Hudson's first Thanksgiving, his first Christmas, she said she does not know how she'll bear it.