A 26-year-old sleepwalking-prone Arkansas father has been charged with the murder of his 4-week-old daughter after giving conflicting stories about how the newborn died.
The Fayetteville man, Charles Dugan, was booked into Washington County Detention Center late Thursday afternoon on an unrelated battery charge and subsequently charged with the murder of the newborn that occurred in August, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
In a police report obtained by the Democrat-Gazette, officers described the chilling scene they found when they were called to Dugan’s apartment at 8:55 p.m. on August 29. The report said the baby girl was in “cardiac arrest” and was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest only to be pronounced dead.
Dugan initially told cops that he had put his daughter in a crib with a bottle of milk in her mouth only to then go to the bathroom and return ten minutes later to find the infant “choking,” the police report said. Unable to connect to 911, the father claims he went to the apartment of a neighbor, who called 911 and attempted CPR.
The Daily Beast reached out to numerous neighbors of Dugan that occupy the two-story, brick outdoor apartment building.
Three months after the baby’s death, however, the medical examiner’s office ruled that it was a “homicide,” citing “blunt force trauma” to the head “with contributions from recent rib fractures,” according to the local CBS affiliate 5News.
Brought back in for questioning by police, the father’s story changed.
“Dugan said he had fallen asleep with the child on his chest and believed she had dropped to the floor,” the police report said. “Dugan was unsure if the infant had struck the coffee table near the sofa or landed directly on the floor but said he woke up to the infant screaming on the floor. He went on to say the incident happened 30-45 minutes before he put the child in her crib.”
Days later, the baby’s mother threw another spanner in the works when she told investigators that Dugan, her husband, sleepwalks and had previously “body slam[ed]” her while sleepwalking.
“Dugan told investigators he didn’t remember if he had been sleepwalking when the infant was injured,” the Democrat-Gazette reported, citing the police report. Police didn’t shed any further light on the veracity of the sleepwalking claim.
Dugan is awaiting trial at Washington County Detention and will not be allowed to post bail. The Fayetteville Police Department did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.