Pair accused of neglect

8-week-old on life support, has brain injuries; Police: Grandparents, juvenile parents to blame

GREENFIELD — An 8-week-old baby hospitalized last month suffered life-threatening injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to investigators.

Now, prosecutors say they are working to file criminal charges against the child’s four caregivers — including his 16-year-old father, who police believe caused the trauma.

The baby’s grandparents, Pearl Holland, 38, and Heath Kimberlin, 41 — who live at 703 Brook St. with the baby and his teenage parents — face a series of felonies accusing them of neglect and were arrested Monday afternoon.

The baby’s 17-year-old mother didn’t do enough to seek medical attention for the infant when his health started to decline, court documents state.

Holland and Kimberlin both face two Level 3 felony counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in injury and one Level 5 felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in injury.

They were being held in the Hancock County Jail without bond at press time.

In the court documents filed in the cases against Holland and Kimberlin, police identify the baby’s 16-year-old father as the caregiver who was home with the baby when the injuries most likely occurred. Police said the other three caregivers who lived in the home didn’t do enough to seek medical attention for the baby when his condition worsened.

At press time, prosecutors said they are working to file charges against the teen parents.

Those charges will be filed in juvenile court, said Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

The names of both teens and the charges they face are not public record, and all court proceedings involving the pair will be closed to the public unless their cases are waived into adult court, a request Eaton’s team plans to make, he said.

A hearing on the request will likely be scheduled in the coming days. No additional information about their cases will be released until a judge approves that request.

The baby was rushed to Hancock Regional Hospital’s emergency room Nov. 11 after his breathing became irregular, court documents state. His heart stopped while doctors there were examining him, and he was flown to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for further life-saving care, court documents state.

Doctors at Peyton Manning hospital placed the baby on life support and ran a series of tests that found the child had broken bones and multiple brain bleeds that doctors told police could only be caused by abusive head trauma, according to court documents.

The child’s injuries included: bleeding between the brain and the skull; brain damage consistent with a stroke; rib fractures; a broken thigh bone; and swelling of the tissue in the neck, court documents state.

The baby is stable, but he remains hospitalized, officials said. He’s been placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services. There’s no way to know what lasting effects the injuries caused, doctors told police, according to court documents.

Greenfield Police Department detectives have spent the weeks that followed working to determine who caused the child’s injuries and why medical care wasn’t sought more quickly.

The baby’s father was left alone with him Nov. 7 and Nov. 10 – the two days doctors and investigators believe the child was harmed, according to court documents.

Doctor’s believe the child’s first head injury and the break to his leg occurred Nov. 7, according to court documents. The second injury likely occurred Nov. 10, just a few hours before medics were called and the baby was taken to the hospital, court documents state.

The child’s father was the sole caregiver to the baby on those days, police say.

But Holland and Kimberlin didn’t do enough to seek medical care for their grandson even when it became clear his condition was poor, court documents state.

“There was a delay in seeking medical care despite 36 hours of serious symptoms in the premature infant. This delay almost certainly contributed to the severity and life-threatening injuries of (the baby’s) current medical condition,” a doctor wrote in a report given to police.

The baby was born premature Sept. 29 and spent much of the first month of his life in the NICU at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.

On Oct. 25, the baby was discharged and brought to the home on Brook Street in Greenfield where his young parents and grandparents lived.

A little more than two weeks later, late on Nov. 10, paramedics with the Greenfield Fire Territory were called to the home after the baby reportedly had trouble breathing and appeared to have coughed up blood, court documents state.

Holland told 911 dispatchers the baby had awoken from a nap and appeared to be gasping for air. That’s when the family found what appeared to be dried blood in and around the child’s mouth and decided to call for help, she said, according to court documents.

Paramedics examined the baby and found no external injuries, though they noted the baby had badly chapped lips and dried gums — signs of dehydration, court documents state. They recommended the baby be taken to the hospital for further care, but the family refused to have the baby transported, court documents state.

Early the next morning, about six hours after paramedics left their home, Holland and the baby’s mother rushed the child to Hancock Regional Hospital. They told doctors there the baby hadn’t eaten but was having fits of vomiting, court documents state.

Doctors noted the baby was gasping for air, and his skin was blue and gray in color and cold to the touch, court documents state. As doctors were examining him, the baby went into cardiac arrest, and doctors immediately began CPR, court documents state.

“Extraordinary life-saving measures” were taken to stabilize the child so he could be flown to the hospital for further care, court documents state.

Once the baby arrived in Indianapolis, law enforcement and Department of Child Services case managers were contacted, and an investigation into what happened to the child began.

The child was placed in intensive care. Doctors told police the child had two brain injuries that appeared to have been caused on different days, court documents state. The injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to court documents.

Holland, Kimberlin and the baby’s parents were interviewed over the next few days, records show.

The baby’s father didn’t speak with investigators, though he was present for every interview that took place, court documents state.

The baby’s mother and grandparents told investigators they didn’t know how the baby’s trauma injuries occurred, court documents state.

Detectives checked each caregiver’s whereabouts in the days leading up to the child’s hospitalization. The baby’s mother, Holland and Kimberlin were all working on Nov. 7 and Nov. 10, according to court documents.

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.