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The woman found dead of an apparent suicide at the Hamilton Place Mall on Monday — while wanted by police in the homicide of a 2-year-old child — was a longtime city employee and foster parent, authorities said Friday.

Deborah Barnes, 62, was wanted on charges of criminal homicide, aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect in the September death of 2-year-old Vincent Carter.

[READ MORE: Chattanooga woman wanted in death of 2 year-old was found dead of apparent suicide]

"We can confirm Deborah Barnes was approved as a foster parent in 2009 and since then has fostered 44 children as a foster parent through Omni Visions, which provides therapeutic care for children in state custody," said the Tennesee Department of Children's Services communications director, Rob Johnson.

"The Sept. 13, 2021, death of a 2-year-old boy who was in state custody remains under investigation," he said. "When the investigation is complete, DCS will release information online as mandated by state law."

(READ MORE: Worker's describe 'unmanageable' caseloads, high turnover, low morale at Department of Children's Services)

According to the city of Chattanooga, Barnes had a lengthy employment tenure there.

"[Barnes] was active, she was a Head Start employee, she was a teacher," said the director of communications for the mayor's office, Mary Beth Ikard. "In terms of her work history performance or personnel files, there was nothing out of the ordinary. There were no write-ups or disciplinary action or anything like that."

The Medical Examiner's office had ruled Vincent's death a homicide, and the authorities issued a warrant for Barnes' arrest on Nov. 6. She was found dead before the warrant could be carried out.

Contact La Shawn Pagan at lpagan@timesfreepress.com.

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