A New Jersey couple is accused of killing their baby son by putting him in a “time out,” during which he suffocated under a comforter, PEOPLE confirms.
William Herring, 42, and Brianna Brochhausen, 22, have been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of their 4-month-old son, according to a news release from Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
According to the release, the couple had initially been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Those charges were upgraded on Tuesday.
According to the release, the family was staying at the Hilltop Motel in Springfield, NJ. on February 14. Investigators allege the couple became frustrated when their son, Hunter, would not stop crying. They allegedly put him on his stomach on the bed, and pulled the comforter over his entire body.
The couple left the room and smoked cigarettes on the balcony, investigators allege. When they allegedly returned to the room about 10 minutes later, Hunter was not breathing. They called for help.
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Hunter was rushed to a nearby hospital. After doctors determined that he needed specialty care, they transferred him to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
He was placed on a respirator to breathe, and had minimal brain activity. On March 3, he died shortly after he was taken off life support.
After an autopsy, the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was suffocation. The case was classified as a homicide, the release states.
“The thoughtless actions of these individuals ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life,” Col. Callahan, the New Jersey State Police Superintendent, told NBC 10. “I commend the detectives of our Homicide South Unit and Criminal Investigation Office for their commitment and dedication to finding justice for Baby Hunter.”
Herring and Brochhausen were arrested on Monday by New Jersey State police. They are being held without bond. They will next appear in Superior Court later this week for a detention hearing.
They have not yet entered a plea, and records do not name a defense attorney authorized to speak on behalf of either of them.
In the press release, District Attorney Coffina emphasized that New Jersey has a 24-hour “stressline” to help parents cope with issues with their children.
“The responsibilities of becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming,” Coffina said in a statement. “Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child.”
New Jersey Parents are urged to contact 1-800-THE-KIDS or www.pofnj.com. The state also has enacted the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. Parents are able to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at hospitals or other emergency stations that are staffed 24/7.