Richmond, Mo., parents charged with death of 3-week-old girl due to blunt force trauma

RICHMOND, Mo. - A two-month investigation into the death of a 3-week-old girl has ended with her parents behind bars.

Dennis Matthews, 25, and Rebecca Matthews, 24, both of Richmond, Mo., were charged with child abuse resulting in death on Oct. 19. They pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday.

According to the Richmond Police Department, first responders were called out to the Matthews residence on Aug. 18 because 3-week-old Aprhil was unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy found Aprhil had fractured ribs in various states of healing at the time of her death, and that she died from blunt force trauma to the chest with internal bleeding.

"It seemed like a brutal death and just sad, a horrible event and horrible way for a child to die," Richmond Police Chief Chad Burnine said. "There was suspicion there originally, and once we got the autopsy results back and confirmed there was blunt force trauma, that really expedited the investigation and got things rolling."

Aprhil was born three weeks premature on July 29.

Court documents detail the Matthews' changing stories as they blame the other two children in the home for Aprhil's death.

READ | Probable cause statements &

Dennis and Rebecca Matthews denied hurting their newborn daughter when first interviewed, and said they didn't know how she sustained the fatal injuries.

But while they were both home from 10:30 p.m. Aug. 17 to 9 a.m. Aug. 18, Aprhil was not fed, changed or checked on from when she was put to bed that evening to when she was found dead the next morning, according to the probable cause statements.

On Sept. 19 -- more than one month after Aprhil died -- Dennis Matthews told authorities he believed 4-year-old K.P., the oldest child in the home, had climbed into Aprhil's crib and fallen on her, killing her. He said he thought K.P. then climbed out of the crib and went to back to sleep in her own room.

Matthews also said he assumed their 2-year-old son, S.M., took Aprhil out from her bassinet on Aug. 8, breaking her ribs. He came forward with this information once he was informed that an autopsy was going to be performed, according to court documents.

While both parents said that Aprhil was fussy, crying and making a clicking sound while breathing on Aug. 8, they did not take her in for any medical treatment at the time. Rebecca Matthews said they were both afraid their children would be taken away from them if they did, and that her husband popped Aprhil's ribs back into place himself.

The next day, on Aug. 9, Aprhil got a clean bill of health from her doctor at a previously scheduled checkup. Rebecca Matthews said she didn't tell the doctor that the baby was having trouble breathing.

Both parents failed a voice stress analysis during questioning about Aprhil's death, according to the probable cause statement.

Dennis and Rebecca Matthews are being held at the Ray County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 13.

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