MUNCIE, Ind.-- The mother of an infant pronounced dead Saturday at IU Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie with extensive burns and broken bones is in the Delaware County Jail charged with one count of neglect of a dependent causing death.
Sarah Ann Styhl, 32, and her 3-month-old daughter Shea Anna Marie Styhl were staying at the Muncie YWCA when the child was reported unresponsive over the weekend.
The baby was pronounced dead after doctors determined she was severely burned and suffered bone fractures to all four extremities.
Detectives said at first Styhl cooperated with their inquiry but became “argumentative” when investigators doubted that she could not have noticed some of the injuries to her daughter.
That’s when Styhl stopped talking to police and asked for an attorney.
“The charges were kind of based on what they saw and what they found and less on what she said,” said Captain Joe Todd of the Muncie Police Department. “Its bad. The photos that I viewed were shocking to me. Those of us who have kids and around kids, it has an effect.”
WaTasha Barnes Griffin, CEO of the Muncie Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), said Styhl was accompanied by a caseworker from Jay County when she arrived with her baby to seek shelter last Tuesday.
Barnes Griffin said during the intake process her staff did not notice any injuries to the child, nor did other employees during two other encounters later in the week.
Captain Todd said doctors determine the infant’s injuries were in various states of healing.
“Not that anybody needs my advice,” he said, “but keep an eye on your children, on family, on family members. It’s a shame what it appears this baby’s gone through that no one noticed.”
Todd said his detectives were conducting a background investigation into Styhl and her daughter and reaching out to relatives.
Pending final autopsy results, Todd said Styhl could face additional charges.