INDIANAPOLIS (April 2, 2014) – An Indianapolis man frustrated with a crying child “lost control” and threw his girlfriend’s son into a crib, resulting in injuries that killed him, police say.
Sethe Sutliff, 21, is charged with murder, battery and neglect of a dependent after the incident, which happened on March 28, 2014, at the apartment he shares with his girlfriend in the 800 block of Hardin Boulevard.
According to court documents, Sutliff was watching the child Friday night when the boy became unresponsive. He called his girlfriend in a panic around 9 p.m. and said the child had “gone limp and was not responding.” He called 911 while the mother rushed home. Sutliff is not the boy’s father.
The boy went to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, where doctors said he had significant head injuries, including bruises on his head, nose and upper lip. Doctors performed emergency surgery after discovering that some of his brain tissue was bleeding, court documents said. The boy later died.
An autopsy performed Tuesday revealed the child suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Initially, Sutliff told Indianapolis Metropolitan police that the child “had fallen on his face to the floor” and “later fell backwards from a seated position on the floor striking his head on a wooden bed frame.” The latter injury happened while Sutliff was changing the boy’s diaper, he said.
Investigators consulted the doctors who treated the boy. They said the severity of the injuries didn’t match what Sutliff told police. During a search of the apartment Saturday, police found blood on a rug, a kitchen chair and a “pack and play” crib. The wooden panel on the bottom of the crib was broken.
When police pressed Sutliff, he added that the child had fallen from his arms after he tripped over some clothes in the hallway. Police weren’t satisfied with that explanation either, even though Sutliff insisted he was telling the truth.
Police then asked Sutliff if he’d thrown the boy in the “pack and play,” and Sutliff admitted that he had. He said he couldn’t get the child to “stop crying and he became frustrated just before throwing him” in the crib, court documents said. He told police he had a “history of difficulty controlling his anger.”
During a phone call with his mother, Sutliff said, “I just got so frustrated and lost control…I didn’t mean to.”
Police arrested Sutliff and took him to the Arrestee Processing Center.