INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – An Indiana man is facing charges after police say he caused the injuries that killed his girlfriend’s child.
At around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28, IMPD’s Child Abuse Unit was notified that a 16-month-old had been taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health unresponsive with possible brain trauma.
Detectives spoke with the child’s mother and her live in boyfriend, Sethe Sutliff. The mother said that the child was fine in the morning and in the afternoon after being picked up from a babysitter’s. The mother later left for work, leaving the child and Sutliff at the apartment.
According to court documents, the mother checked in while she was at work and Sutliff said everything was OK. He then called her around 9 p.m. and was hysterical. He said the child “had gone limp and was not responding.” She said Sutliff hung up and called 911, while she rushed home.
Detectives then spoke with Sutliff. He said the child fell on his face after his mother left for work, but the child didn’t cry and there was no blood. Sutliff says the child took a nap and woke up crying around 8:30 p.m. After he went to change his diaper, Sutliff says the child fell backwards, hitting his head, and then started having a seizure. After he called 911, he says he started performing CPR on the child, based on directions from the 911 dispatcher.
The next day, a child abuse pediatrician at Riley said the child’s injuries were “characteristic of abusive head trauma,” and that the amount of brain tissue that was damaged was “consistent with a significant delay in medical intervention.”
Detectives later spoke with Sutliff, who then said the child fell from his arms after he tripped on clothing in the hallway. He told detectives he “didn’t want to get in trouble.”
Police said the injuries the child had wouldn’t have been caused by simply falling from Sutliff’s arms. Detectives found evidence in the apartment, including a “pack and play” with a broken wood panel and possible blood on it. When Sutliff was asked if he threw the child into the “pack and play” he said yes.
Sutliff went on to say the child wouldn’t stop crying and he became frustrated before throwing the child. He said he had a history of difficulty controlling his anger, court documents said.
Sutliff was placed under arrest. He called his mother to say what happened and said he “just got so frustrated and lost control….I didn’t mean to.”
Police were told by Riley Hospital officials on Sunday that the child had died as a result of the injuries sustained. An autopsy performed on April 1 showed the child suffered blunt force trauma to the head which was the cause of death.
Sutliff faces murder, battery and neglect of a dependent charges.