Man charged with murder, Child Abuse in Midland toddler’s death
MIDLAND, MI – A Kalamazoo County man is charged with murder in connection with the death of a Midland toddler.
Damian A. Garrett, 23, of Augusta, on Friday, Sept. 20, appeared in Midland County District Court for arraignment on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Both are life offenses, with the former mandating no possible parole if convicted.
The arraigning judge denied granting Garrett bond.
Police had arrested Garrett in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 19. Two days prior, at about 3:05 p.m., police responded to an apartment in the 5200 block of Hedgewood Drive for a report of a child not breathing. They arrived to find emergency medical responders in the process of rendering CPR to an unresponsive girl.
The 21-month-old girl, identified by Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks as Skylar N. Papple, was transported to Mid-Michigan Medical Center where staff pronounced her dead.
Garrett was in a dating relationship with the child’s mother, police have said.
Brooks said Skylar died due to drowning and also suffered some secondary head trauma. Garrett had been home alone with Skylar, giving her a bath, Brooks said.
At some point, he ran to neighbors’ homes seeking help, then flagged down a UPS driver, who called 911, Brooks said.
Garrett is to appear for a preliminary examination at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15.
2,246 fetal remains found in Illinois home
of abortion doctor
After Dr. Ulrich Klopfer died in rural Crete, Illinois, on Sept. 3, authorities found “2,246 medically preserved fetal remains” in his home.
Klopfer performed thousands of abortions in northern Indiana clinics before his medical license was revoked in 2016. But it’s unclear where the fetal remains came from, though the Will County, Illinois, Sheriff’s office said in a news release there was no evidence that Klopfer performed abortions on his Illinois property.
Public records show that Klopfer had not been licensed to practice medicine in Illinois since 1990, when he failed to renew his license. Records do not show Klopfer holding any other state’s medical license after the Indiana suspension.
Authorities are not saying if they think Klopfer, 79, transported the remains from Indiana, how the fetal remains had been preserved or why the remains may have been in his possession in the first place.
Kathy Hoffmeyer, Will County, Ill., Sheriff’s spokeswoman, on Monday called this a sensitive investigation and declined to release details.
Indiana records allege the doctor, first licensed in 1979, had a history of bad record keeping in his clinics.
According to a complaint filed by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, Klopfer worked in clinics in South Bend, Gary and Fort Wayne from 2012 to 2015.
The board in 2016 found that Klopfer failed to properly file paperwork regarding abortions performed at the clinics, including some that were dated the same day as the procedure, a violation of Indiana’s 18-hour waiting period.
The licensing board found he performed abortions on two 13-year-olds without filing paperwork within three days as required by law.
The allegations regarding the 13-year-olds led to misdemeanor criminal charges in two counties, which Klopfer was facing at the same time he fought to keep his medical license, records show.
He was charged with failing to timely file a public report and admitted wrongdoing in St. Joseph County in 2014 and Lake County in 2015, according to the licensing board’s complaint. Under terms of the pretrial diversion agreements, the misdemeanor charges were later dismissed.
None of the Indiana allegations against Klopfer were related to fetal remains. How such remains ended up on Klopfer’s property are a mystery.
In the news release, the sheriff’s office said a lawyer for the Klopfer family first told officials about the discovery of the fetal remains. IndyStar left a message on Monday for the attorney, identified by WMAQ-TV (Channel 5) Chicago as Kevin P. Bolger.
Klopfer’s family had no idea the fetal remains were inside the doctor’s rural home, Bolger told WMAQ on Saturday.
“No one has any answers,” Bolger told the station. “The family is cooperating 100%.”
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill told IndyStar on Monday that the discovery of the fetal remains “shocks the conscience.” Hill said his office will work with the office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on an investigation into the “grisly” findings.
The Louisiana Department of Education today revoked the license of an early learning center in Ouachita Parish and terminated its public funding after escalating instances of children being mistreated by staff members, resulting in employees being terminated and arrested for cruelty to juveniles. The center also failed to timely report the most recent incident to the appropriate state agencies and to the parents of the children involved.
“Early childhood education centers have the responsibility of not only preparing our youngest learners for success in Kindergarten and beyond, but also prioritizing their health, safety and well-being,” said State Superintendent John White. “This center has proven it is unable to protect our children.”
Most recently, in August, the Department’s Division of Licensing inspected The Assembly Kidz Care, located at 1007 Glenwood Drive, after learning a staff member mistreated three 3-year-old children.
The center’s video showed the staff member picking up one child by the shirt before dropping them to the floor, causing the child to hit their head.
The staff member was then seen aggressively grabbing a second child while attempting to put the child down onto a sleeping mat, and dragging a third child across the room and onto a sleeping mat.
The center’s video also showed the staff member hitting and shaking the children.
A parent watching the center’s video observed the mistreatment and brought it to the attention of the center’s director. The center did not notify the state education department, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services or the parents of the children involved within the required time frame.
This center is now ineligible for public funding through the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps make child care more affordable for working low-income families. The education department has alerted families affected by this action and is working closely with them to identify safe, quality alternative options.
The Assembly Kidz Care has 15 calendar days from receipt of the notice of revocation to appeal the decision. Providers who have had their licenses revoked are ineligible to apply for licensure for two years. Operating a child care center without a license may result in an order to cease and desist, as well as an injunction from a court prohibiting the continued operation of a child care center without a license and placement on the statewide registry of individuals prohibited from operating a child care center.
YORK, NE – A York County jury has found a McCool Junction woman not guilty of child abuse.
Ashley A. Eckard, 29, was charged with committing child abuse intentionally/no injury, a Class 3A felony.
Now that she has been found not guilty, the charge has been dismissed.
According to court documents, it was alleged that she burned an 8-year-old child on the hand with a lit cigarette.
According to the affidavit filed with the court, the child told investigators with Health and Human Services and the York County Sheriff’s Department that Eckard intentionally burned her three times.
The child said when she told Eckard she was going to tell other adults what happened, Eckard allegedly grabbed her by the ear and instructed her to say she had gotten hurt sliding down a slide on a bouncy house – according to the court documents.
The sheriff’s department’s investigator said he observed three burns on the child’s hand that were approximately the same size as a cigarette, in his reporting for the affidavit.
The jury was convened, a trial was held and the jury came back with the verdict of not guilty.
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests El Campo Man for Sexual Assault of a Child
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit of his office arrested 42-year-old Robert Lee Gonzales, of El Campo, Texas, pursuant to three warrants for sexual assault of a child.
A CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC) alerted the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) to Gonzales, who reportedly uploaded child pornography to a social media account.
Following a search warrant at his residence, Gonzales was interviewed by CEU investigators and denied possessing child pornography.
Investigators seized several digital storage devices for examination by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.
As the investigation continued, a subsequent search warrant for Gonzales’ social media account revealed communications with two children, detailing sexual assaults, as well as images of child pornography.
The two children were identified and interviewed, both confirming that Gonzales sexually assaulted them.
Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
Since its inception, the Child Exploitation Unit has made 334 arrests and obtained 589 convictions on charges for possession of child pornography.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their safety.
If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography, you can report it to NCMEC. CyberTipline 1-800-843-5678