Cause of death of baby whose father was arrested after TV appeal is revealed

·3 min read
Missing Infant Alabama (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Missing Infant Alabama (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

A five-week-old baby in Alabama who was reported missing and then found buried in a rural grave was killed by blunt force trauma to the head, court records show.

The affidavit concerning 32-year-old Caleb Michael Whisnand Sr and the murder of his infant son CJ revealed no further information.

The charging documents state that CJ was killed on Monday between 3.45pm and 10.49pm, AL.com reported. The latter time was when Mr Whisnand called 911 from a gas station to report his son missing.

The father has been charged with capital murder as the victim is younger than 14. Court records don't yet show if he has a lawyer.

The Monday 911 call prompted the start of the investigation, with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency issuing a missing child alert on Tuesday morning. The alert said the child had been missing since Saturday, but authorities didn’t become aware of it until Monday night.

Law enforcement said on Thursday that Mr Whisnand had said that CJ had been abducted from his vehicle while he was at the Circle K gas station where he made the 911 call.

Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said on Thursday: “We’re still trying to piece everything together. It’s hard to give you [a] definite answer when we don’t have definite answers.”

Mr Whisnand and the child’s mother, 28-year-old Angela Gardner, took part in a TV press conference on Wednesday. Mr Whisnand said: “I don’t remember a lot, but I did remember I was breaking up, ya know, with the cops. If anybody’s got anything, any places that I could have gone, you know who you are.”

“Please, find him please,’' Ms Gardner said.

The couple said at first that the last time they saw CJ was on Saturday when he was in bed with them and Ms Gardner’s two-year-old son was in another room.

But just moments later, Ms Gardner instead said that she was home with her two-year-old and that Mr Whisnand was with CJ on Monday. They gave no explanation for the discrepancy in dates or where Mr Whisnand had been between Saturday night and Monday night.

“He went to go pay gas at the gas station and realised he was gone,’' Ms Gardner said. “He let the police know, and me know, that he was missing.”

After the press conference, investigators found CJ’s remains in a remote part of Lowndes County, southeast of Montgomery.

According to Ms Gardner’s mother, Margaret Hope, the couple lived with Mr Whisnand’s parents. CJ’s grandmother told AL.com that her daughter was about to leave Mr Whisnand “and I think that’s the reason he took the baby”.

Ms Gardner has not been charged. When asked if anyone else could face charges, Sheriff Cunningham said: “Right now, it’s still early. We still have a lot of leads we’ve got to follow up on.”

Mr Whisnand was already under indictment in an unrelated case when he was arrested on Wednesday. He’s facing charges for meth and heroin possession, reckless endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was released from jail on those charges on 16 June 2020, and his trial for those alleged crimes is scheduled to take place in October.