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‘Most disturbing case’: Va. man arrested for scalding his 9-month-old baby

Posted at 11:13 AM, Apr 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-28 21:23:03-04

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. -- A Spotsylvania man was arrested and charged with felony child abuse after he scalded his nine-month-old baby, according to Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger L. Harris. William Robert Schmuhl, 24, is being held in Rappahannock Regional Jail following the April 21 incident at the Super Value Inn in Spotsylvania County. Detectives launched their investigation after the child was brought to Mary Washington Hospital's satellite emergency room at Lees Hill.

"The team, comprised of investigators from Child Protective Services, Detectives from the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigative Division and a Deputy CA from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, were summoned by hospital staff after a nine-month old child was brought to the ER suffering from extensive emersion-type burns, common to dipping the child into scalding hot water," Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office spokesman Captain Jeff Pearce said. "The child was stabilized and subsequently transferred to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, for advanced burn treatment and possible surgery."

Pearce said Schmuhl, his girlfriend and the child were staying at the motel. Detectives arrested Schmuhl after interviewing him and conducting a forensic examination of the motel room.

He also tells CBS 6 News that this is one of the most disturbing cases he and members of their child victim unit have seen.

Pearce says what is more upsetting is that this motel where Schmuhl was living is within walking distance of the Mary Washington Emergency Room where he eventually took the baby girl. “The baby’s burns are so very severe it appears the suspect waited several hours before bringing the child to the ER."

“The baby suffered several hours and she was lethargic," Pearce said. "She was going into shock.”

Investigators say the case could be upgraded if the baby doesn’t pull through.

"This investigation is still ongoing and additional charges may be brought against Schmuhl and anyone else who may have been involved and had knowledge of the crime, failing to summon law enforcement or assistance for the child," Sheriff Harris said.

Schmuhl was previously arrested for felony child abuse in 2013. In that case, a four-month-old child was taken to the hospital with fractured ribs and other injuries. The injured infant was reported to be the child of his Schmuhl's then-girlfriend. The girlfriend in the 2013 case is the same woman involved in the 2015 incident, according to family members with knowledge of the situation. It is unclear whether or not Schmuhl was convicted of the 2013 charges.

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