Recognizing signs of physical child abuse
A 25-year-old Fort Worth woman has been jailed, accused of fatally injuring her 6-week-old daughter, then blaming it on her 3-year-old son.
Halle Marie Murry was arrested Saturday at her workplace on a capital murder warrant accusing her of causing the Jan. 14 death of her daughter, Acelyn Lailani Rogers.
An arrest warrant affidavit states that both Murry and her 3-year-old son tested positive for cocaine days after Acelyn’s death.
The boy was taken into state custody and is living with a relative, according to Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman with Child Protective Services.
The affidavit, written by crimes against children Detective C. West, details the case as follows:
Murry had taken Acelyn and her young son to Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital on the afternoon of Jan. 14.
She told a doctor there that she had awoken after falling asleep with her daughter on her chest to find the lifeless girl on the floor with her son standing over the infant. She elaborated to a hospital chaplain that her son has attention deficit disorder and “dropped her.”
Acelyn was transferred to Cook Children’s Medical Center, where a doctor informed the mother that a 3-year-old could not have caused such injuries.
Murry then went home for unknown reasons, later returning to the hospital, the affidavit states. She later gave varying reasons for why she went to her apartment, including to drop off her keys and daughter’s pink onesie.
“Halle had access to her apartment prior to officers being able to secure the scene,” West wrote in the warrant. “It wasn’t until after she realized her initial story about how the injuries may have happened were questioned, that she gave inconsistent statements as to what she actually did at the apartment prior to officers securing the scene.”
Acelyn was pronounced dead at 5:48 p.m. that same day.
A doctor told West that Acelyn had one of the worst skull fractures he’d ever seen and that he didn’t believe a 3-year-old could have caused so much damage.
In interviews with Fort Worth police, Murry changed her account of what happened, West wrote.
She told police Sgt. C. Hendrix that she awoke to find Acelyn on the bed in her mother’s bedroom with her son standing over the girl holding a metal fidget spinner.
She told the sergeant, and later West, that she noticed the shape of the bruises on her daughter’s forehead seemed to match that of the fidget spinner.
She also told West that she knows her son would have hurt Acelyn when he tried to get her on the bed because he doesn’t know how to hold her head up.
She described her son to West as often too rough with his baby sister and always trying to pick her up.
“She stated how bad her 3-year-old has acted in the past by describing him hitting Acelyn with objects, slapping, biting, kicking and spitting,” West wrote.
Murry also told the detective that she and her son had been up for the past three days and that she had asked for help dealing with the boy, but nobody had helped her, the affidavit states.
A forensic interviewer attempted to interview the boy on Jan. 16 but could not understand him, so the interview was stopped.
He was later placed in a room with a play doll consistent with the size and weight of Acelyn and was observed being both loving and aggressive with the doll, according to the affidavit. A doctor who observed the interaction told investigators that the child did not, however, “demonstrate the dexterity or force to cause the extensive head injuries to Acelyn.”
An autopsy determined the Acelyn had multiple fractures caused by repeated blows to the head. Following additional tests, her death was recently ruled a homicide caused by traumatic head injuries by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
Murry was being held in the Tarrant County Jail as of Saturday evening. Bail had not yet been set.