A Florida father has been criminally charged more than two years after he allegedly killed his infant daughter by stuffing a baby wipe down her throat.
Joseph Napier, 30, is facing one count of manslaughter in connection with the death of his two-month-old daughter Iris Noelle Napier on 28 May 2021. The development comes after a years-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding the baby girl’s death, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference on Monday.
Mr Napier made a 911 call reporting that her daughter was unresponsive and received CPR instructions over the phone. When deputies arrived at his residence in the city of Vero Beach, they found Iris was “turning blue” and took over CPR.
The infant was transported to a local hospital before she was flown by helicopter to a medical centre in Orlando, where she was eventually pronounced dead. Mr Napier told investigators that he had left his deceased daughter unattended for 10 minutes and that it was his 18-month-old daughter who shoved a wipe down Iris’s throat.
However, a team of detectives and forensic investigators determined that the toddler couldn’t have possibly done that due to her hand’s measurement, leaving Mr Napier as the only suspect as he was the only adult at the home.
“Our team has done a great job of proving that he had had enough that day, that he put that wipe in that child’s mouth,” Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said on Monday, per WPTV. “He pushed it down far enough that this child choked. It took doctors using forceps to go deep into this child’s mouth.”
Sheriff Flowers also said that an analysis of Mr Napier’s cellphone determined he had been playing on his phone, on Facebook, and complaining to the children’s mother that Iris would not stop crying. Law enforcement also accused Mr Napier of waiting five minutes after he allegedly shoved the wipe down Iris’ throat before calling 911.
“Detectives later determined that Mr. Napier spent approximately 30 minutes on his cell phone making his timeline inaccurate,” a statement released by IRSO also said.
Iris Noelle’s maternal grandfather Joe Miller also spoke at Monday’s press conference. Mr Miller said that he was getting ready to take his other granddaughter to dinner when he heard an angry Mr Napier “screaming at the top of his lungs” because he was frustrated with baby Iris.
“As I was getting dressed, Joe was screaming at the top of his lungs at the baby, ‘Why can’t you shut the f up?!’” Mr Miller said. “That was the last thing I heard.”
An autopsy performed on Iris determined that she died due to a fatal airway obstruction.
“Based on all of the evidence gathered, and in consultation with medical physicians, it was determined that the only person present at the time of the incident that could have placed the wipe that deep in the child’s throat was Joseph Napier,” the IRSO said. “While this investigation involved the tragic loss of life, we are hoping that this arrest can give some closure to the friends and family.”
Mr Napier has denied all the allegations against him.
He is being held at the Indian River County Jail on a $750,000 bond.