Hospital checked death boy mother
The family of a mother suspected of murdering her two-year-old son were so concerned about her behaviour she was taken to hospital for assessment the day before she carried his lifeless body into a police station.
Melanie Ruddell, 39, walked into Peterlee police station, County Durham, on Monday morning with her toddler Christy on her shoulder. His death was confirmed later in hospital.
It emerged that Mrs Ruddell, whose marriage to husband Alan was ending in divorce, called police with a serious allegation on Saturday which was investigated.
For legal reasons the nature of the allegation cannot be reported but her report was quickly deemed to be a fantasy.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission was called in to investigate whether Durham Police's handling of the case should be subject to an inquiry.
Mrs Ruddell, a former welder, lived in the sought-after village of Castle Eden, but was staying with her war hero bother Neil Close, a Corporal in the Royal Engineers who has served in Iraq and has been honoured for his bravery.
On Sunday, she was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of Hartlepool after family members expressed concern about her welfare. She was assessed and later discharged herself.
Mrs Ruddell, a stationery saleswoman, then returned to her brother's home in West Rainton, where police believe she strangled Christy early on Monday.
He was also stabbed once, but police did not believe this caused his death. Mrs Ruddell was also found with injuries thought to have been self-inflicted.
Mrs Ruddell's mental health was believed to have swiftly deteriorated. A police source said: "This is something that has come tumbling down very quickly and calamitously."