Indiana County mother accused of smothering her infant son, staging a cover-up

INDIANA COUNTY, Pa. — An Indiana County mother is facing homicide charges in the death of her 9-month-old baby boy.

According to police, Patricia Hullenbaugh, 21, was arrested while on the job at the White Township Lowe’s, smothered her son and staged a scene to cover it up.

“This is a tragedy,” said Indiana Borough Police Chief Justin Schawl. “It’s a criminal act and it’s a tragedy at the same time.”

According to a criminal complaint, officers were called to an Indiana home on Jan. 6 for reports of an unresponsive infant.

“Three officers were at that address within three minutes, and were presented with an unresponsive 9-month-old infant male,” Schawl explained.

There, Hullenbaugh told police “she placed the [baby] in his crib [...] to take a nap” and later “found him hanging partially outside the crib, with his face down on the mattress of the crib.”

Officers and the baby’s father did CPR, as did medics and staff at Indiana Regional Medical Center. They were able to get a pulse and transferred the baby to Childrens Hospital in Pittsburgh. Five days later, the baby died.

According to the complaint, police conducted multiple interviews and re-enactments with the boy’s parents. On Jan. 24, police say Hullenbaugh admitted she had “applied pressure with the blanket to [the baby’s] face/head area, and when she took it off, [the baby] was not breathing.”

The complaint goes on to say she “panicked and placed [the baby] between the slats to cover up what she did.”

Police also say Hullenbaugh admitted to waiting 15 minutes before waking up the baby’s father and calling for help.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Michael Barnicle, a neighbor. “I thought you were talking about down here...28′s right next...They’re my neighbors.”

Barnicle’s fiance and kids live just a few doors down from Hullenbaugh.

“I saw them come out with their kids every night,” he told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek. “It’s sickening. But, she’ll get what she deserves”

Hullenbaugh faces multiple charges including homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, strangulation, possessing an instrument of crime, and filing a false report.

The District Attorney said the investigation is still ongoing.

“If you have had any contact with this defendant over the past few months, or if you believe you have information related to this tragic case, I am asking you to please reach out to the Indiana Borough Police,” said Robert Manzi, Indiana County District Attorney.

Hullenbaugh is due in court February 8.

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