After an almost year-long investigation, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a Bloomfield woman who’s facing a Level 3 felony count. She is accused of breaking the arm of her seven-week-old child. She was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon.
Brandi N. Atherton of Bloomfield was 26 years old at the time of the incident that occurred back in October of 2017. She’s now 27.
Investigator Julie Criger of the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office prepared a lengthy probable cause document detailing the numerous interviews that have been conducted since the child was first taken to a hospital emergency room, as well as the medical reports and consultations with medical personnel over the course of the investigation.
On Tuesday, October 2, Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw filed a criminal case against Atherton in Greene Circuit Court with a preliminary charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 3 felony.
The charge was approved the same day by Judge Erik Allen and the warrant for Atherton’s arrest was issued.
The investigation started on October 10, 2017, when Atherton and a male, her significant other, took the infant to the emergency room of IU Health Bloomington Hospital and the hospital contacted the Indiana State Police to report a case of possible child abuse.
After tests, the attending emergency room physician said the child had a broken right arm and unknown internal head injuries, possibly consistent with being shaken. He consulted with Riley Hospital in Indianapolis and the decision was made to transfer the infant to Riley for further testing and treatment.
Once at Riley, a doctor said the additional testing, which revealed a clearer image of the child’s head, did not show head injuries that were suspected earlier in the emergency room.
However, they did determine the infant’s upper arm was broken in a spiral fracture.
In addition to Criger, Indiana State Police troopers and investigators have been involved in this case along with personnel from the Department of Child Services.
The probable cause notes that at the end of the initial emergency room visit, before the infant was transferred to Riley, a caseworker from the Greene County Department of Child Services made the decision and informed the investigating trooper that DCS was taking custody of both the infant and the infant’s twin.
Criger said Atherton has admitted she pushed the child’s arm out of the way in order to give a bottle late at night. The twins were sleeping in a “pack ‘n play” next to the mother’s bed and the mother was tired and didn’t want to get up out of bed. The child’s hands and arm were in the way of being able to give a bottle. The mother also allegedly said she heard the child’s arm pop but didn’t believe she had caused any injury on purpose.
However, Criger reported that during the course of this investigation, interviewers heard no less than four explanations from Atherton about how the infant might have been injured, including the arm being pinched by a car seat safety belt and a rough ride on a bumpy country road.
Criger explained that when she questioned the child’s physician at Riley, he said a spiral fracture has a corkscrew type appearance that requires a twisting or rotational force and would not be caused by pushing.