Georgia Father Accused of Beating 15-Day-Old Daughter to Death and Hiding Body in Cloth in Woods

The baby's body was found wrapped up in blue cloth in a hole under a log

Photo: Christie Ethridge/Facebook

The father of a Georgia newborn found beaten to death in the woods on Sunday has been charged with murder in her death, PEOPLE confirms.

On Wednesday, Christopher Michael McNabb, 27, of Covington, Georgia, was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and concealing a death, said Capt. Keith Crum of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE.

McNabb is accused of killing his 15-day-old daughter, Caliyah McNabb, before hiding her body in the woods near his family’s mobile home, says Crum.

An autopsy determined that the infant died from blunt force trauma to the head, Newton Coroner Tommy Davis said Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“It’s heartrending that that small of a child — a baby only 15 days old — had been so injured that it died,” says Crum. “It’s hard to rationalize an irrational act.”

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McNabb made his first appearance in court Thursday morning, where he was denied bond.

He refused a public defender, according to The Covington Times.

In the arrest warrants obtained by PEOPLE, Newton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeff Alexander alleges that McNabb struck the infant with an “unknown object.”

The blow “did cause the victim’s skull to be seriously disfigured and damaged beyond repair,” the warrant alleges. “This act further caused the death of the victim.”

McNabb then tried to hide the body with a t-shirt, blanket and a draw-string bag in the woods not far from the residence where the death took place, the warrants allege.

Suspect Allegedly Yelled: ‘I Didn’t Do It’

On Saturday morning, the infant’s mother, Courtney Bell, called 911 to report that Caliyah was missing, Crum told PEOPLE previously.

Bell said she had fed the baby and changed her diaper and put her to bed at about 5 a.m., said Crum.

In the 911 call released by police, a frantic Bell tells the operator that her 2-week-old was not in her sleeper when she woke up.

Newton County Sheriff's Office

Sobbing, Bell explains that she had been up with the baby most of the night and had fallen asleep on the couch at 5 a.m.

When the operator asks her if she thinks someone took the baby, she says, “My 2-year-old said she’s gone. And I looked everywhere in the house — I don’t know another possibility.”

McNabb was outside looking for the baby, she says.

On Sunday night, McNabb was taken into police custody shortly after he allegedly fled on foot after learning the body of his infant daughter had been found, Crum previously told PEOPLE.

Before he was captured, witnesses allegedly saw him acting erratically at a convenience store. “He was yelling, ‘I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it!’ ” Crum said.

When McNabb ran out of the store, police arrested him for an alleged unrelated probation violation out of Bartow County. He remains held at the Newtown County Jail.

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After an extensive search on Saturday, volunteer searchers found the baby’s body wrapped up in “blue cloth” in a hole under a log, said Crum.

Store clerk Julie Hannah told Fox 5 Atlanta that she saw McNabb when he came into the store. “He was real wet and nasty like he had been running through the woods in the rain,” Hannah said. “He started hollering and talking about, ‘They are going to get me. They are going to get me. I’ve been running all day. I have been in the woods all day.’ ”

Hannah added, “He went on and on and on just rambling ‘I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the baby’s mama. Y’all going to look crazy when you figure this out.’”

The clerk called 911 and McNabb was taken into custody without incident.

The mother, Bell, was questioned and released, said Crum. PEOPLE’s calls to Bell were not immediately returned.

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