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UPDATE: Boone Mom Headed to Jail After Attempting to Smother Her Baby

By: Cathleen Moxley,Anna Baxter, WPXI, The Associated Press Email
By: Cathleen Moxley,Anna Baxter, WPXI, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 9/5/13 @ 11:20 a.m.
PITTSBURGH (WSAZ & WV MetroNews) -- A mother from Boone County will spend time in jail after she attempted to suffocate her 4-month-old child at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh last year.

Back in July, Rachel Nelson, 22, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person.

Nelson was arrested last October. Police say Nelson held her 4-month-old son against her chest and squeezed him so he struggled to breathe. This happened several times, according to investigators.

During a hearing Thursday, a judge sentenced Nelson to 18 months in jail with five years probation. The judge also ordered Nelson to stay away from all minors.



UPDATE 7/15/13 @ 3:30 p.m.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A Boone County mother has pleaded guilty to trying to smother her 4-month-old son at a Pittsburgh hospital last year.

Rachel Nelson, 23, of Costa, W.Va., pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child rather than face trial before an Allegheny County judge. She'll return for sentencing Sept. 5.

Nelson is still still being investigated for allegedly trying to do the same thing more than a dozen times when she was leaving W.Va. according to the district attorney's office.

Nelson's public defender declined comment and referred questions to the head of her office, who did not immediately return a call.

Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus has said investigators believe Nelson may have tried to suffocate the boy more than a dozen times since August.

The boy was treated at a Charleston, W.Va. hospital six times after he turned blue and had to be resuscitated, then was transferred to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in October for what police called "repeated episodes of apnea and hypoxia and concerns of medical child abuse."

The boy's father woke up in his son's hospital room on Oct. 19 to find the boy blue and not breathing, and told police Nelson was the only person awake with the boy. When the boy was transferred to intensive care, he was again found limp with abnormal breathing on Oct. 20.

After doctors reviewed surveillance footage of Nelson in the room alone with the boy and blocking the camera's view of him, she acknowledged holding the boy to her chest until he stopped breathing, police said.

Nelson was taken to a psychiatric facility for evaluation after she was charged, but it wasn't clear if she was continuing to receive psychiatric treatment.

Kraus said investigators have been unable to explain Nelson's actions.

"At this point we don't know," Kraus said. "That's up to the medical people and the physicians to determine."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/19/12 @ 8:30 a.m.
BOONE COUNTY ,W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother from Boone County will be court this week to face charges after police say she tried to suffocate her four-month-old baby more than a dozen times.

According to our sister station, WPXI, Rachel Nelson, 22, of Costa, was officially arraigned on criminal charges last Thursday.

Nelson was charged in the case back in October, but it wasn't until last week she was arraigned because police say Nelson has been under evaluation at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic since the latest incident involving her son.

Nelson is accused of suffocating and then resuscitating her baby at least 15 times, according to court records.

Pittsburgh Police say 13 of the incidents happened in West Virginia, two happened at a hospital in Pittsburgh.

The boy was originally admitted to a hospital in Charleston before being transferred to Pittsburgh with concerns of medical child abuse.

Nelson told police she would black out when holding her child too close accidentally smothering him, but according to the complaint, she later admitted she never blacked out.

Nelson is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh courtroom Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

During last week's arraignment, Nelson's bond was set at $100,000.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/25/12 @ 6:45 p.m.
BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A young mother is facing charges after police say she tried to suffocate her four-month-old baby at least 15 times.

The disturbing discovery was made at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. That’s where police say the mother suffocated the baby twice.

However, it's what led up to that that's now sparking another investigation back at home.

“It's awful,” Starlit Lyttle, a family friend said. “It's unbelievable.”

Lyttle says she was shocked to hear what happened. Police say Rachel Nelson, 22, repeatedly smothered her baby boy.

“To think that anybody in this family would do something like that, no, I don't believe it at all,” Lyttle said.

Nelson originally told police she would black out when holding her child too close and smothering him, but according to the complaint, she later admitted she never blacked out and was fully alert when he would stop breathing.

Nelson is already facing several charges in Pittsburgh including aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person. More charges could be waiting on her when she comes home.

“You can't stand for an innocent four-month-old child to be abused; be the victim of an attempted murder type situation. So we're not gonna tolerate it here as well. We’ll aggressively pursue it,” Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller said.

Lyttle is convinced she's innocent.

“They’re good people. There’s got to be another explanation for it,” Lyttle said.

Sheriff Miller is in the process of interviewing Nelson's family.

He's also working to get information from the hospitals where her baby was admitted. One concern is how this could happen so many times before law enforcement was notified.

Sheriff Miller says because the baby was admitted to a hospital in Charleston, it’s possible that law enforcement in Kanawha County could also get involved.



UPDATE @ 11 a.m.
PITTSBURGH (WSAZ, WPXI & AP) -- Police say a West Virginia woman faces charges after she attempted to smother her 4-month-old son after he was admitted to a Pittsburgh children's hospital.

An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for 22-year-old Rachel Nelson of Costa, W.Va., in connection with an incident last week at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Investigators say the boy was transferred to the hospital Oct. 18 after repeated episodes of breathing issues and "concerns of medical child abuse."

Our sister station, WPXI, has obtained the criminal complaint that states the baby was also having repeated episodes of apnea and hypnoxia.

The next day, the child's father alerted nurses that his son was not breathing and he performed rescue breaths until nurses got in the room, according to the complaint. Police say the child's father was asleep when the child became unresponsive.

The child was resuscitated and transferred to ICU.

Police say the boy was again found to be limp with abnormal breathing in the intensive care unit on Oct. 20. The reporter at WPXI reports from the complaint that the child received 30 minutes of oxygen before he was breathing normally again.

After doctors reviewed surveillance footage investigators say at least one of the incidents was caught on camera.

"We do have video evidence that we are examining, but i don't want to get into what is being discussed," Lt. Kevin Kraus, Pittsburgh Police.

Nelson later admitted holding the boy to her chest until he stopped breathing, according to the complaint.

Nelson was taken to a psychiatric facility for evaluation. Court records don't list an attorney for her.

Nelson will be charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

According to our sister station, the child was placed in the custody of Children and Youth Services, police said, and all family visits have been canceled.

"The child is in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit, we don't know what the long term result of these assaults will be," Lt. Kevin Kraus, Pittsburgh Police.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department is also investigating this case.

During a news conference Thursday morning, Pittsburgh Police released additional information about the case.

According to Pittsburgh Police, investigators are looking into 15 possible suffocating instances where six times the baby was brought to a Charleston hospital.

Police say Nelson would compress and suffocate the child to near death and then resuscitate.

Nelson is still in the hospital, as soon as she is released police say she will be arrested.

So far Nelson has not been charged in West Virginia.

Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller tells WSAZ.com deputies are in the process of subpoenaing the hospital records.

No other information is being released at this time.

We have a crew in Boone County. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Police say a West Virginia woman faces charges after she attempted to smother her 4-month-old son after he was admitted to a Pittsburgh children's hospital.

An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for 22-year-old Rachel Nelson of Costa, W.Va., in connection with an incident last week at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Investigators say the boy was admitted to the hospital Oct. 18 after repeated episodes of breathing issues and "concerns of medical child abuse."

Police say the boy was found to be limp with abnormal breathing in the intensive care unit on Oct. 20.

After doctors reviewed surveillance footage investigators say Nelson admitted holding the boy to her chest until he stopped breathing.

Nelson was taken to a psychiatric facility for evaluation. Court records don't list an attorney for her.

We have a a crew in Boone County. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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