Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dad charged with murder in death of 4-month-old son; had just regained custody 1 month before from adoptive parents (Des Moines, Iowa)

The research evidence is crystal clear. Young males are the worst for child abuse. As a policy, they should not be encouraged to be caregivers. They are just too aggressive and have no nurturing skills.

Dad is identified as DREW JAMES WEEHLER-SMITH.


Father, 17, charged with murder in death of infant

Regina Zilbermints, 12:21 a.m. CDT April 29, 2014

The 17-year-old father of an infant who died in Des Moines last week has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the child's death, police said.

Drew James Weehler-Smith of Des Moines, was charged on Monday. He also faces a child endangerment resulting in death charge. The murder charge is punishable by life in prison. The child endangerment charge carries a penalty of 50 years.

Weehler-Smith is being charged as an adult, officials said.

Four-month-old Gabriel King McFarland died of abusive head trauma, a medical examiner determined.

Investigators haven't determined for certain how the injuries were inflicted but Weehler-Smith, 17, was the only one at home with the child on April 22 when Gabriel died, police said.

Gabriel's mother, Markeya Atkins, had gone to run errands around 7:25 p.m. on April 22 and left the infant in his father's care, police said.

About 25 minutes later, a friend dropped by the apartment and saw Weehler-Smith holding the baby. As she left, the friend called Atkins, who asked her to return to the apartment. When the friend drove back at around 8:10 p.m., she saw Weehler-Smith driving away without Gabriel, police said.

When Atkins returned home she found the baby unresponsive in his glider chair. Markeya Atkins and friend Siobhan Williams returned to Atkins’ home April 22 to find Atkins' 4-month old son, Gabriel King McFarland, unresponsive. This is audio from a 911 call made by Williams.

Officials said they determined that it was Weehler-Smith who inflicted the injuries. Among other things, they took into account that Weehler-Smith didn't report any injuries on the child when he arrived and later left him alone.

Weehler-Smith, who is a junior at Des Moines Roosevelt High School, was initially charged with neglect of a dependent person for leaving Gabriel alone in the apartment. He has been in custody at a juvenile detention facility for the past week and will be transferred to the Polk County Jail.

Gabriel had only been living with Atkins, 16, for about a month when he died. An Ankeny couple, Rachel and Heidi McFarland had cared for the infant from birth and were set to adopt him when his birth mother took him back, they have said.

The McFarlands could not be reached for comment.

Felicia West, Atkins' mother, said she and her daughter had not been contacted by law enforcement officials before Weehler-Smith's arrest on the murder charge and weren't aware of autopsy results.

The family did not expect a murder charge against Weehler-Smith, West said during a phone interview.

"That's the last thing we prayed for," she said. "We was praying that somehow the baby got sick and had a seizure or something and he panicked and left."

Atkins had not been in contact with Weehler-Smith since his arrest last week on the neglect charge, West said.

Atkins declined to comment.