WEST LAWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania couple whose 6-month-old daughter was found dead in March, her remains stuffed into a storage container full of cat litter in their rented townhome’s crawlspace, are now charged with the baby’s slaying.
Shaun Cody Oxenreider, 25, and Samantha Marie Trump, 27, both of West Lawn, were charged Wednesday with criminal homicide, multiple counts of aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Harper Trump, court records show. They were already facing charges of criminal conspiracy, concealing the death of a child and abuse of a corpse.
Trump is pregnant with another child, police said. The couple also has a 21-month-old child who was placed in protective custody in March after Harper’s body was found.
The Reading Eagle reported that a probable cause affidavit filed Wednesday indicated that Harper Trump died of "blunt force trauma to the head and homicidal violence." The affidavit was written by Spring Township criminal Investigator Cory Huntsinger.
The baby's March 22 autopsy found that the girl suffered multiple broken bones over the four-month period immediately leading up to her death, which investigators believe took place around Jan. 1. She had rib fractures in multiple stages of healing, as well as a broken right forearm, the newspaper reported.
The injuries "would have been caused by repeated episodes of squeezing and blunt impacts and are indicative of prolonged abuse," Dr. Neil Hoffman said, according to the Eagle.
Hoffman, who was aided in the autopsy by a forensic anthropologist, also found a fracture in the bone at the base of Harper’s skull, the newspaper reported. He told Huntsinger the injury could have been inflicted up to a week before she died, the affidavit said.
Harper's body was found after Spring Township police officers and officials with Berks County Children & Youth Services contacted the couple March 19 for a welfare check, police officials said. Oxenreider's family members reported that they were told the baby had died.
Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams said during a March news conference that one of the relatives said Oxenreider gave conflicting stories about what happened to Harper.
According to a March probable cause affidavit obtained by the Eagle, the Children & Youth Services caseworker assigned to investigate could find no record of Harper's death or cremation and, when she asked Trump by phone about a death certificate, Trump said she and Oxenreider were in New Jersey and would not be home for several weeks.
When the caseworker drove by the townhouse that evening and saw Oxenreider’s vehicle parked outside, she called police. Officers arrived at the couple’s townhouse around 7:45 p.m., the court document said.
The couple would not initially allow officers inside and talked to them through the door, the Eagle reported. When Huntsinger arrived, Oxenreider stepped outside and Trump remained just inside the door.
As Huntsinger questioned Trump, she fell to the floor having an apparent seizure, the affidavit said. She was taken to a hospital by ambulance while Huntsinger and other officers continued investigating Harper’s death.
They demanded to see the child's urn and around midnight, Oxenreider agreed to let them search the home, the newspaper reported. In a locked bathroom, they found pictures of the baby, used diapers and baby clothes, the affidavit said.
Investigators also searched a closet next to the bathroom that led to the crawlspace under the stairs of the two-story townhome, the Eagle reported. There, they found a large, sealed plastic container full of cat litter.
Oxenreider told the officers that they kept the cat litter in the crawlspace to keep it away from the kitchen, the court document said. The officers noticed a plastic bag sticking out of the litter, however, and pulled it out onto the floor.
When they cut the bag open, they found Harper’s remains inside, the Eagle reported.
Oxenreider was arrested at the scene. WFMZ-TV in Allentown reported that Trump remained hospitalized for about three weeks before being booked into the Berks County Jail in April.
She and Oxenreider remained there Wednesday in lieu of $250,000 bail each.
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