, Salem, MA

November 2, 2011

Police: Peabody dad shook newborn


By Julie Manganis
Staff writer

PEABODY — A Peabody man whom police said admitted shaking and head-butting his 7-week-old daughter because she was crying while he was "trying to play Xbox" and drink beer Saturday night is being held without bail.

Richard Elias, 22, of 12 Magnolia Way, Apartment 1221, is facing charges of assault and battery on a child causing injury, one count stemming from the incident Saturday night in the apartment he shares with his wife, Rachel, 37, and the other from an incident 10 days earlier, on Oct. 19, when he admitted shaking the baby on a changing table because she soiled a just-changed diaper, according to court papers.

Doctors have found that the infant suffered traumatic brain injury, including a brain bleed.

Elias, who, according to court papers, has a tattoo across his chest that reads "Family First," has pleaded not guilty. He is being held at Middleton Jail pending a full hearing on Monday to determine whether he poses a danger if released.

Elias, who is unemployed and receives Social Security Disability Income, took the baby to North Shore Children's Hospital on Saturday night, telling doctors there that she had been suffering seizures for four hours straight, according to the police report.

His wife was attending a Halloween party that evening, leaving Elias home alone with the child.

The baby was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital, and Department of Children and Families investigators were notified, as were state and Peabody police.

According to Peabody police Detective Stephanie Lane's report, Elias initially told investigators that he had attempted to "bounce" the baby up and down on his knee, without supporting her neck, and that he also threw her onto his shoulder hard enough for her head to hit his collarbone, "hard enough to cause him pain."

He said the girl had started suffering seizures after the earlier incident on the 19th, initially claiming he had dropped her about a foot onto a Boppy seat, according to the police report.

But on Monday, while speaking to DCF investigators, Elias admitted that he had been rougher with the baby than he had initially claimed.

He said that on the 19th, he had grown "frustrated" when the child soiled a fresh diaper, leading him to shake her on the changing table, according to the report.

And then 10 days later, on Saturday night, he admitted that while drinking beer and "trying" to play on his Xbox game console, the baby's crying was bothering him. He told investigators that he shook and then head-butted the baby. Afterward, her head felt soft, "like a pillow or a sponge," he said. After that, the baby had seizures for about four hours before she was taken to the hospital.

Elias was arrested Monday afternoon.

The motion to have Elias held without bail was filed by prosecutor Kate MacDougall, who oversees all child abuse and family crimes cases for the Essex County district attorney, and was granted by Judge Richard Mori.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or