NJ parents who put crying baby in ‘time out’ are charged with murder
SPRINGFIELD (Burlington) — A couple who said they put their crying 4-month-old baby in a "time out" because he wouldn't stop crying have been charged with the boy's murder after authorities said they suffocated him with a comforter.
The parents, identified as 42-year-old William Herring and 22-year-old Brianna Brockhausen, were initially charged with child endangerment after their son Hunter died on Valentine's Day. The charges were upgraded after further investigation, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said Tuesday.
When Hunter did not stop crying in their room at the Hilltop Motel on Route 68, the parents said they gave him a "time out" by putting him on his stomach on the bed and covering him completely with the comforter, Coffina said. The parents said they then went outside to smoke cigarettes and came back 10 minutes later. The parents said they found their son unconscious.
First responders took the boy to Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly and then to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Coffina said the child had "minimal brain activity" when he arrived at the hospital and was breathing with a respirator. He died on March 3 after he was removed from life support.
"The thoughtless actions of these individuals ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life," New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan said.
The child's cause of death was ruled to be complications of suffocation, and the manner of death was ruled to be a homicide, according to Philadelphia Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Albert Chu.
"The responsibilities of becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming," Coffina said. "Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child."
Coffina said one of the resources available is Parents Anonymous of New Jersey, which offers support groups as well as a 24-hour Stressline/Family Helpline. The number for the hotline is 1-800-The-KIDS. New Jersey also has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act which allows newborn babies to be brought to a hospital emergency room, police station, or first aid squad that is staffed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The baby has to be brought by a parent or a representative and it can be done anonymously.