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Father charged after infant remains found

Friday, January 23, 2009 | 1:17 p.m. CST; updated 1:47 p.m. CST, Friday, January 23, 2009

HARRISONVILLE — A man who fathered four children with his teenage daughter has been charged with murder after the remains of two infants were found in coolers on property where the family once lived, authorities announced Friday.

The 47-year-old is charged with second-degree murder, endangering the welfare of a child, statutory rape, two counts of incest and two counts of abandoning a corpse. An arraignment was scheduled for Friday afternoon, and he did not yet have an attorney, authorities said.

Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley said Friday that three of the four children he fathered with his now-19-year-old daughter are dead, but he has been charged with just one of the deaths so far. Authorities allege that the man began molesting his daughter when she was 13.

The Associated Press is withholding the suspect's name because it could identify the victim of a sex crime.

According to court documents, both the man and his daughter told police that he had fathered all four children and that they were all delivered at home by the father and his wife.

He was arrested Wednesday night in Daviess County, where he had been living since October. Sheriff Dwight Diehl said two sealed coolers, each containing the remains of a baby, were found in rural Harrisonville.

Diehl said he has never seen a case like this before.

"This is bizarre," he said.

After receiving a tip from the sister of the reportedly molested woman, Cass County authorities in October used cadaver dogs to search the rural property where the family once lived. Nothing was found during that search, but on Jan. 1 the new owners of the property found the two coolers and contacted police.

Inside each sealed cooler, described as the kind of small ice chests that would be used on a picnic, was the body of a child.

The suspect is charged in the death of a boy who was born Nov. 17, 2006, and believed to have died of pneumonia on Feb. 28, 2007. Authorities believe the baby became ill and that the suspect and his daughter, who has not been charged, never sought medical attention.

Investigators are still looking into the death of the other infant, and say a third child fathered by the suspect also is dead and is believed to be in Oklahoma. Hensley and Diehl referred questions about that death to Oklahoma authorities.

His wife is charged with endangering the welfare of a child for not reporting the alleged sexual abuse of the daughter. She is free on $10,000 bond.

"We have a child who at age 13 had her father sexually molesting her. And her mother allowed it," Hensley said. "Who she would have turned to is hard to determine. For six years (the daughter) was under his control."

 


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