Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dad arrested on six preliminary felony charges in death of 5-month-old son; had previous child abuse record (Muncie, Indiana)

With his record, dad CORY WALLACE should have been barred from any contact with children.

Father arrested for 5-month-old son's death in February house fire

Posted: Aug 08, 2015 6:32 PM EDT Updated: Aug 09, 2015 12:39 AM EDT

By Emily Longnecker, WTHR reporter

MUNCIE, Ind. - A 22-year-old Indianapolis man has been arrested on six preliminary felony charges in the death of his 5-month-old son in Muncie in February.

Cory Wallace was arrested Friday night at 8:30 after giving police "multiple versions" of what happened when his son Jensen died.

The baby was found dead in the family's burning home on Feb. 10. That night, Wallace told investigators he’d tried to go back into the South Meeker Street house to save his infant son, but the fire was too much. Now, a forensics pathologist has determined Jensen was dead before the fire started and that Wallace is to blame for the "blunt force trauma to the head" Jensen endured.

“There are two sides to every story, I guess, but it seems pretty cut and dry,” said neighbor Christine Lynch.

Lynch said she remembers the night of the fire and how quickly rescue crews got there to help.

“I thought, 'Something really don’t add up,' because for the quickest time that they got down here, the fire trucks and everything as quick as they got that baby out, there’s no reason that baby shouldn’t have made it,” said Lynch.

Prosecutors agreed, and preliminarily charged Wallace with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, aggravated battery, battery on a child under age 14, arson, attempted abuse of a corpse and obstruction of justice - all felonies. He was being held in the Delaware County jail on $150,000 bond.

According to court documents, Wallace eventually admitted he accidentally dropped his son on a hardwood floor. He then told investigators he “freaked out and did not know what to do,” so he put his son in his play pen, checking on him hours later and found him dead.

”He stated he again freaked out and didn’t know what to do," prosecutors said in their probable cause affidavit for Wallace's arrest.

“Later in the evening, he decided to start a fire in [Jensen]’s room.”

This isn't the first time Wallace has been in trouble with the law over a child's welfare. He was charged in Marion County in March 2013 with neglect of a dependent, according to court documents. That case also stemmed from a child Wallace fathered, and was under the age of 1 at the time. He pleaded guilty in January 2015 - one month before the family's home went up in flames.

During the plea hearing for the 2013 case, prosecutors said - and Wallace admitted - he failed to get medical attention for the child even though he had suffered several injuries, including "multiple rib fractures."

In this case, the forensic pathologist found Wallace's son, Jensen, had several injuries, including at least two rib fractures (one older that had healed as well as a fresher injury that had not healed), as well as abrasions and small cuts on his back, chest, neck and scalp. The pathologist found that "many of these abrasions and cuts were consistent with having been made by human fingernails."

Investigators say Wallace admitted he would “snatch” the baby from his wife when they fought, causing some of the injuries. Court documents show Wallace told investigators, ”I don’t know my own strength.”

For neighbors like Lynch who are just learning the details, “That’s horrible. I mean my heart breaks. I mean it’s just horrible and to know it happened this close."