FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Charles James Dugan, 26, of Fayetteville, has been arrested in connection to the August death of his infant daughter.
Dugan faces second-degree murder charges after providing conflicting stories about an incident that occurred while he was watching the child.
On August 29, Fayetteville Police Department patrol officers responded to apartments at 2719 E. Kantz Drive, in reference to as assist for the Fayetteville Fire Department and Central Emergency Medical service.
According to a neighbor that called 911, a four-week-old infant was in cardiac arrest and did not appear to be breathing. Emergency medical personnel attempted life-saving measures for several minutes before transporting the infant to Arkansas Children’s Hospital-Northwest.
The infant was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Officers conducting the initial investigation interviewed Dugan, the child’s father, as well as the mother of the baby. According to her statement, she had left the residence at approximately 5:15 p.m., leaving Dugan alone with the infant.
The mother stated that this was not uncommon and that Dugan usually watched the infant alone while the mother worked. She stated that she did not return until after 9 p.m. after being contacted by her husband.
His first statement to investigators was that he placed the infant in her crib while swaddled in a blanket and propped a bottle in her mouth using another blanket. He said he then went to the bathroom and returned approximately ten minutes later to find the infant “choking” on milk.
Police were contacted after the infant’s death when, according to a medical examiner’s report, the cause of death was identified as “closed head injuries caused by blunt force trauma, with contributions from recent and healing posterior rib fractures.”
The manner of death was deemed a homicide.
The police contacted Dugan and conducted an interview with him at Fayetteville PD on December 6, where his story changed. He admitted to falling asleep with the baby on his chest, and stated that he “believed the infant fell to the floor.”
Dugan was unsure if the infant struck a coffee table near the sofa or landed directly on the floor.
He said he awoke to the sounds of her screaming on the floor.
He told investigators that this incident occurred approximately 30-45 minutes before finding the child unresponsive in her crib.
Despite the presence of “several police officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, nurses, and doctors,” Dugan never told anyone about the fall at the time.
The police report states that Dugan “provided a litany of self-serving excuses, putting his own interests above the health of the child.”
On December 9, police met with the infant’s parents at their apartment to take measurements of the fall distance. The mother told them that “Dugan often suffers from sleepwalking and that it was possible Dugan sleepwalked.”
She said that Dugan often walked around the apartment and once attempted to “body slam” her during a sleepwalking episode.
Dugan could not remember if he had sleepwalked and did not remember if he had awakened seated or standing, according to a police report.
On December 16, Dugan was arrested for unrelated charges stemming from a battery at a local hospital. He was transported to Fayetteville PD the next day, issued his Miranda Rights, and arrested for second-degree murder.
He is being held at the Washington County Detention Center currently without bond. Dugan currently has a court date set for 7:45 a.m. December 20.