Friday, January 29, 2010

Dad charged with murder in death of infant son (Louisville, Kentucky)

We just posted on dad ROBERT WILFRED LONG JR. earlier today. Now we hear that he has been charged with homicide in the death of his infant son. The autopsy reports that the baby died from blunt force trauma. Daddy basically abducted the baby from the babysitting grandmother and beat him to death "before the next morning." Could an earlier Amber Alert have saved this baby?

Father charged with murder of infant son
Posted: Jan 28, 2010 4:23 PM CST
Updated: Jan 28, 2010 6:54 PM CST

Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville Metro Police have charged the father of an infant found dead inside a SUV with his murder. According to LMPD, Robert Wilfred Long, Junior was charged in the murder of Lavion Gamble after autopsy results showed the 7 1/2 week old infant's death was the result of homicide.

According to deputy coroner Jim Wesley, Lavion died from multiple blunt force trauma to multiple parts of his body.

Long had served time for the death of another infant. He was convicted of killing his 5-week-old son in a 1991 death. With that past, come questions about how the baby and Long could have been missing such a long time.

Baby Lavion's family called police four times after his mother discovered he was gone, the last time prompting an all-out search. WAVE 3 tracked down the timeline of events and asked could anything have been done to save the baby?

The last time Lavion's mother, Leslie Gamble, saw him was at 8 a.m. Monday when she dropped the baby off at his grandmother's home. It is doubtful she could have known it would end with a swarm of police and her child dead.

Lieutenant Tom Dreher, commander of the LMPD Crimes Against Children Unit, said Robert W. Long Jr. picked his baby up around 7:30 p.m. Monday. By the time Gamble got home from work at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, both were gone.

"So she starts calling the father's cell phone and the father is not answering," Dreher said.

According to what Long told police, it was about that same time that he noticed the baby had died.

At 2:26 p.m. Tuesday, Gamble went to LMPD headquarters to report her baby missing to a 1st Division officer.

"They were unaware of any custody issues but the officer did the right thing in document 'Hey, there's something going on because this mother is conveying that there's something unusual,'" said Dreher.

Around the same time, at 2:05 p.m. Tuesday, a family member reported a black SUV missing and said Long had it.

Still unable to make contact with long several hours later at 7:26 pm, the family called police again, but this time no report was taken. The next day, Gamble called police again, this time talking to the Crimes Against Children missing person's detective. She came in a couple hours later, at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, to give the detective more information.

"She's still not been able to reach Mr. Long at this point, so by now between Monday and Wednesday, we've got a day or more, we've got a lot of hours now so my investigator says, 'Well give me Mr. Long's information,'" Dreher said.

The detective ran a background check and only then, for the first time, police said did they find out Long had served time for killing another baby.

"That raised a red flag, Dreher said. "Normally this case did not fit the criteria of an Amber Alert, but because of Mr. Long's past history, KSP was in the process of finalizing, they were going to approve an Amber Alert."

Investigators said they figured out Long was in the Newburg neighborhood and swarmed the area.

"As one of the cars is going down Ridgecrest, he looks over and says, 'Hey, there's a vehicle fitting that description over here.' So everybody converged on that area," said Dreher.

Dreher says it looks like no matter when the police search started, nothing would have saved baby Lavion. According to the arrest report, Long told police the baby was already dead early Tuesday morning.

"This is obviously something very tragic," said Dreher. "We would have liked to have had an opportunity to recover this baby alive but based on the information that was shared by Mr. Long with our investigators, that wasn't going to be the case."

Dreher said part of the investigation will be what officers knew and at what point.

We found out both Robert W. Long, Jr. and the baby's mother worked at Cardinal Aluminum in Louisville. WAVE talked with sources there who said Long worked his normal shift, a four-hour shift, on Monday.

Long was arraigned Thursday morning on charges of menacing, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in the death of Lavion. The murder charge was added late Thursday. He remains in custody at Louisville Metro Corrections.