Daniel Jacob Messner, 25, of 45 E. Eighth St., McMechen, was charged with death of a child by a parent by child abuse after allegedly shaking the 3-month-old child, causing brain bleeds which eventually killed the child over three days.
On Nov. 18, police responded to a call at his home, where Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Klempa was on scene, providing CPR to the unconscious child. According to Messner, the child vomited during feeding and went limp, which prompted the call to police.
Police were unable to find the vomit. Police also noticed a ligature mark, or a mark consistent with strangulation by a rope or cord, on the child’s throat.
At Wheeling Hospital, doctors told police that the child suffered from bleeding in the brain, and what was, at the time, a suspected skull fracture, according to police reports.
When questioned, Messner and the child’s mother became agitated at the implication that they had injured the baby, though Messner allegedly told police that while laying the child in his swing, the child’s head struck the swing’s hard case. Later, he also said the child’s head “might” have hit a table while Messner carried him, which Messner said caused an audible “crack.”
By that afternoon, doctors determined that the child was not breathing, nor was he responding to pain or any other stimulus, indicating severe neurological injury. The child was found to have multiple brain bleeds, signs of shaken baby syndrome, as well as significant loss of brain tissue, including a complete absence of brain stem reflexes. Subsequent examinations indicated that the child had not suffered skull fractures, but serious brain damage. During treatment, the child was transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
The infant child was pronounced dead at 1:42 p.m. Nov. 21, after suffering brain death during the intervening days.
According to police records, Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office investigator Bryan Gaus had spoken to a doctor at Ruby, who said the child suffered from “the most violent case of ‘shaken baby’ that he had ever seen.” The doctor also said the suspected ligature mark on the child’s throat was suspected to be from strangulation, and that the child’s death was “the result of extreme violence, and the child’s death was nearly instantaneous.”
A report from the same doctor was sent to police, detailing his interactions with Messner and the mother. After being informed of the extent of the injuries, Messner allegedly threw his belongings to the floor, complaining of multiple stressors in his life, including a friend’s death, a previous miscarriage, his job and finances. The doctor’s report to police also stated that, if the child died, Messner said he would “disappear from the face of the earth,” never to be seen again.
Messner was interviewed by police Monday and allegedly admitting to shaking the child, and that he knew he made a mistake.
The charge against Messner carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, according to the state code. He remains lodged at the Northern Regional Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond after his arrest Tuesday. His preliminary hearing before Magistrate Mark Kerwood is set for 2 p.m. Dec. 13.