UPDATE: Father charged in Watervliet infant's death
WATERVLIET, Mich. – The play set outside the Cobblestone Village Apartment Homes apartment complex in Watervliet sat empty Tuesday. A single child’s toy lay in the sand box. An eerie sight, considering what happened in the quiet complex Monday morning.
According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, police and medics were called to the apartment around 10:30 a.m. Monday for an infant that wasn’t breathing.
The infant, 11-month-old Aiden Ladd, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon in a Kalamazoo Hospital.
Aiden’s father, 24-year-old Casey Ladd, was arrested Monday on murder suspicions. Tuesday Ladd was charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse charges. Berrien County Police confirmed to ABC 57 News there is evidence the infant was beaten to death.
“He liked to bounce and giggle with me,” said a Aiden’s mother, a woman who would not share her name. “(He) never did nothing wrong.”
The mother said she got a call from her Ladd Monday saying Aiden was choking. The mother said she rushed to the hospital and arrived shortly after Aiden was pronounced dead.
The mother said she was not home at the time of the incident but doesn’t believe Ladd would hurt one of their three children. “He’s never done anything physical to hurt his children, never,” she said.
Neighbors who live inside the complex told ABC 57 News, constant fighting and children screaming could be heard in the hallways of the building on a daily basis.
Mom is still standing by Ladd. “I just want people to stop judging and saying he killed his son when there’s no physical evidence there’s no proof of anything.”
Ladd was arraigned Tuesday on formal charges. He is currently in the Berrien County Jail on a $1,000,000 bond.
Official autopsy results have not been released.
Ladd has a past criminal record in Berrien County including two drug convictions and a domestic violence charge he pled guilty to in 2010.