Man held in brutal, fatal beating of infant son

This article contains explicit descriptions of violence.

A Parker County man, arrested three times recently on suspicion of family violence, has been accused of killing his 1-month-old son by crushing his skull.

John Paul Webb, 35, was being held without bond Wednesday on a charge of capital murder.

His son, Christian Webb, born Sept. 9, was pronounced dead at 10:22 a.m. Monday at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

"Blunt force trauma to the head and brain" was listed as the cause of death.

Sheriff Larry Fowler said the child's injuries are the worst that he has seen in nearly 48 years as a law enforcement officer.

"The severity of this was just off the scale," Fowler said. "If you saw these pictures, you'd just grit your teeth. It took a tremendous blow to the back of that baby's head to crack it like an egg shell."

A 3-year-old girl has been removed from the home and placed in foster care, said Marissa Gonzales, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.

The girl appears healthy, Gonzales said, but she was taken because of the "circumstances surrounding the death."

"If other relatives come forward, we'll want to investigate them fully before placing her there," Gonzales said.

She said CPS had no previous contact with the family.

Detectives believe that Christian was beaten at the Webb family home, in the 550 block of Wood Hollow Drive, a rural area southwest of Weatherford.

A probable-cause affidavit filed by the Sheriff's Department said Christian's mother, Angelica Joyce Ahern-Webb, called an ambulance at 5:57 a.m. Monday.

She later told detectives that Christian was in his crib when she went to bed but that she awoke with him in bed with her.

Ahern-Webb started to change his diaper, but he was "cold, unresponsive and had blood on his lips," according to the affidavit.

She turned to Webb, the document said, and demanded, "What happened to my baby last night while I was asleep?"

He said nothing happened, and she called an ambulance.

Ahern-Webb "reported that the injuries may have been caused from a minor vehicle accident with a motorcycle the previous day," the affidavit says.

Ahern-Webb told detectives that a motorcycle bumped her vehicle in another county, Fowler said.

"We haven't independently verified that at all," Fowler said. "But believe me, if these injuries were sustained in a motor vehicle accident, then this child would have been in a hospital."

A doctor at Cook told detectives that the injuries were "consistent with abuse," the affidavit says.

Christian had "multiple skull fractures, rib fractures, brain swelling and bleeding, a torn frenulum, bleeding in the abdomen, bruising on the face, and bruises on the arms," the document says.

A social worker at the hospital told the Sheriff's Department dispatch center that while Ahern-Webb was at the hospital with her baby, she was contacted by Webb, who was threatening suicide, the affidavit says.

Sheriff's deputies went to the family's home and tried to contact Webb, but no one answered the door. "The deputies on scene began a search of the nearby fields," the affidavit says.

Members of the combined Weatherford-Parker County SWAT team joined the search.

About 3:45 p.m. Monday, Webb called Ahern-Webb while she was being interviewed by detectives at the Sheriff's Department.

She handed her cellphone to a detective, and Webb told him that he was still at home.

Webb "agreed to walk out" and was taken into custody, the affidavit says.

The previous family violence reports were for assaults on Christian's mother.

Jail records show that Webb was arrested in December, July and last month.

One charge indicates that the victim's breathing was restricted.

"In other words," Fowler said, "he choked her."

Webb was released on bonds in those cases, Fowler said.

"I got a couple investigators here who handle crimes against children, and they pretty much seen it all," Fowler said. "But this has rattled them down to their shoe tops."