MD Man Facing Felony Child Abuse Charges

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Paul Frederick Herd Sr., 57, is charged with first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury, first-degree assault and second-degree custodial child abuse.

Cecil County man charged with Child Abuse; accused of shaking baby

April 02, 2020

CECIL COUNTY, MD  –  A man is facing felony child abuse charges after he allegedly shook a 5-month-old baby in his Cecil County household, causing significant injury to the infant’s brain, according to charging documents.

Investigators identified the suspect as 57-year-old Paul Frederick Herd Sr., who remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Thursday, two days after his bail review hearing, court records show.

Herd is charged with first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury, first-degree assault and second-degree custodial child abuse – all of which are felonies – in addition to three misdemeanor offenses, according to Cecil County District Court records.

“At this time, it is impossible to know what long term effects will be; however, portions of the brain were deprived oxygen due to the hemorrhaging,” Cecil County Sheriff’s Office Det. Chase Arminger, lead investigator, outlines in his written statement of probable cause filed on Tuesday.

The investigation started on March 19, when Arminger responded to Nemours A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Del., after physicians there alerted that they were treating a 5-month-old baby for “injuries consistent with physical abuse,” police said.

Doctors reported that the infant was “actively seizing with no medical explanation,” that a CAT scan revealed the infant was suffering from “acute and chronic” bleeding inside the head; and that a retinal scan indicated “significant (bleeding) in both eyes,” police added.

“The ruptured blood vessels in the retinal area were too numerous to count.  Medical professionals advised (that) the injuries present were inconsistent with the explanation given at the time the infant was presented to the medical staff.  Det. Arminger was advised that the mechanism of injury was physical abuse consistent with shaking, unless or until, proven otherwise,” according to court records.

That prompted Arminger to conduct separate interviews with five other people who were living in the house with the baby – the infant’s mother, the mother’s boyfriend and the mothers’s two other children, who are elementary-school aged, police reported.

The mother told Arminger that the baby and her two other children had been left in the sole care of Herd on March 14 and again on March 17, police said.  The mother also told the investigator that she noticed a change in the baby’s behavior on March 16, police added.

“The infant was refusing (its) bottle, sleeping off and on, and being abnormally fussy. Through March 16 through March 18, the infant’s condition continued to deteriorate, prompting the mother to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician,” court records show.

On the morning of March 19, however, the baby started seizing and, after consulting the pediatrician on the phone, the mother called 911 — resulting in an ambulance crew driving the infant to A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital, police reported.

The mother’s boyfriend, during his separate interview, gave a similar account of when Herd was alone with the baby and the other two children in the house, police said.  He, too, also told Arminger that the baby had been moody and had a diminished appetite, police added.

In addition, according to court records, the mother’s boyfriend reported that he noticed a small bruise on the baby’s face on the night of March 17 and that he was unsure of the cause.

The mother’s boyfriend also noted Herd had told him that, on March 14, one of the elementary-aged children had tripped over the baby while the infant was on the floor — an incident that occurred while all three children were in Herd’s sole care, court records show.

During their separate interviews, the elementary-aged children gave similar accounts of Herd’s alleged reaction after the tripping incident took place, police said.

The older of the two children described Herd as “mad” at the sibling who had tripped over the baby, police added.

That older child told Arminger that Herd then picked up the infant and “shook her up and down saying, ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay’,” court records allege.

The younger of the two elementary-aged children told the investigator that Herd picked up the baby and “moved (the infant) up and down” while saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

During his interview, Herd told investigators that the tripping incident occurred on March 17, not March 14, and that the baby was not injured and was “doing fine” and “taking bottles normally,” police reported.

When asked about the events of the March 13-15 weekend, according to court records, investigators noticed a “significant behavior change” in Herd.  Investigators observed Herd “look away and appear withdrawn while giving answers to specific questions,” police reported.

Herd denied watching the baby and the two older children over the March 13-15 weekend, until detectives shared details given during other interviews, police said. At that point, police added, Herd “admitted to watching the children, but only for 30 minutes.”

When asked to detail what occurred right before and directly after the baby’s mother called 911 on morning of March 19, Herd told investigators that the infant was “barely conscious,” and that he attempted to help the baby while waiting for the ambulance, police reported.

“I (Herd) kept holding (the baby’s hands) and keeping (the baby) alert, because I know when you have a concussion, you don’t go to sleep,” according to court records, which further allege, “(Herd) would have had no knowledge the infant had a head injury at the time 911 was contacted unless there was prior knowledge of the mechanism of injury.”

Arminger arrested Herd on Tuesday, court records show.