Loyalhanna Township couple jailed on child abuse charges
A Loyalhanna Township couple were jailed Monday on criminal charges of severely abusing their infant daughter, who physicians said suffered 23 bone fractures as well as internal injuries.
Elizabeth M. Fair, 21, and Christopher L. Peterman, 19, both of 132 Mulberry St., outside New Alexandria, are charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with injuries suffered Oct. 20 by their daughter, who was then 3 months old.
The charges were filed before Washington Township District Judge Jason Buczak by state police at Kiski after a three-month investigation.
State police said they were contacted by the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau after the couple took the infant to Excela Health Westmoreland hospital in Greensburg “with life-threatening injuries.” The child was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
An examination showed the infant, who was born prematurely, suffered 20 rib fractures, a right temporal skull fracture, a broken right femur, two fractured arms, a lacerated spleen, and lung and heart contusions, according to the affidavit filed by Trooper Todd Adamski.
Adamski said Fair initially told medical personnel that they brought the baby to the emergency room after her breathing monitor alarm went off.
“The parents additionally reported a similar episode occurred several days (before) where the mother, Elizabeth Fair, had to perform CPR due to the fact the infant stopped breathing,” Adamski reported.
When Peterman was confronted by emergency room physicians at Excela after the extent of the child's injuries was diagnosed, Peterman told them “the injuries must have occurred when the baby's bassinet frame collapsed” in their dilapidated mobile home, police said.
Physicians at Children's Hospital told police the baby “sustained a severe fracture to the right femur at an uncommon location and would have been in severe pain,” Adamski wrote in the affidavit.
Physicians told police “there was no reasonable explanation from the parents other than abuse,” Adamski said.
In a subsequent interview with police, “Peterman offered no new explanation of the injuries,” according to Adamski.
Police said the parents were the infant's only caregivers. Authorities said the infant was removed from the couple's custody.
A preliminary hearing for the pair is scheduled on Feb. 4 before Buczak.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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