Charges were authorized against the mother in Kalamazoo County Tuesday, June 19. She faces one charge of felony murder and two charges of first-degree child abuse. Authorities allege the 22-year-old Holland woman injured her 5-month-old twins, causing one of them to die.
In a medical evaluation of the baby at Bronson Methodist Hospital, doctors noticed suspicious injuries and trauma, Portage Public Safety officials said in a press release. The child died due to his injuries Feb. 13, and an autopsy performed by the Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s Office listed injuries of the head and neck as the baby’s cause of death. His death was ruled a homicide.
In a petition filed in the family division of Kalamazoo County Circuit Court to terminate the mother‘s parental rights, an employee of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services wrote the boy who died was found unresponsive by the mother around 4 a.m. Jan. 31.
The mother attempted to wake the boy unsuccessfully, then put him back in his bassinet to tend to her other child. The woman then contacted other residents of the home in the 10000 block of Woodlawn and said she had some concerns because the boy “didn’t look right.” The other family members then called an ambulance.
When the boy was admitted to Bronson Methodist Hospital at 7:43 a.m., he was having seizure activity. He had bleeding on the brain, likely retinal hemorrhaging and unexplained bruising on his left forehead and right cheekbone, according to family court records. The boy had a subdural hematoma and significant whiplash trauma.
On Jan. 31, the mother “confessed to hitting both children with an open hand, striking the minor child … in the head with an eyeglass container, as well as to dropping both minor children into the bassinette portion of their pack and plays,” the family court petition reads.
A judge ordered both children to be removed from the mother‘s care, saying in court records the mother having custody presented a “substantial risk of harm to the children‘s life, physical health and mental well-being.”
Neighbors to the house where the abuse is alleged to have occurred said they were surprised to hear the news.
Nesseth lives several houses down the street from the home on Austin Lake. The surrounding community is also normally quiet, he said.
“It’s a bit of a shock,” he said.
Reporter Brad Devereaux contributed to this report.