SPANISH FORK, Utah (ABC4 News) – Police in Spanish Fork have arrested a couple in connection with the severe abuse of their three-month-old baby, after the child’s mother brought her to the hospital for severe burns to her hand.
Police said they were called to assist a case worker with the Department of Child and Family Services on December 31 at 9 p.m. on an aggravated child abuse offense involving an infant.
The case worker and the officer arrived at the U of U Hospital Burn Center and met with Doctors in regard to a suspicious second-degree burn injury that covered most of infant’s left hand.
The next day doctors revealed several more severe injuries including a break in both the left and right upper arm, brain bleeding consistent with shaken baby syndrome, possible detached retina’s that could lead to vision problems or loss of vision.
It is still to be determined if the baby will need surgery to repair the damage done to her little body.
Doctors said the baby will remain at the hospital for an undetermined amount of time.
DCFS and police served a warrant to remove the child from custody of her parents Whitney Huber, 30 and Daniel Mercer, 28. when doctors told police the baby’s injuries occurred over the past two weeks and the burn happened sometime Monday morning.
Extensive and multiple interviews were conducted with Huber and Mercer. Police said the mother was cooperative but at first they felt she might be trying to protect boyfriend.
Police said when Mercer was interviewed, he began making “odd and deceptive statements frequently”.
The next day, officers returned to take both Huber and Mercer into custody. Once in custody, Mercer told police he had lied to them the night before when they were there.
He admitted to causing the burns to his daughter’s left hand but after hours of extensive interviewing neither Mercer or Huber would confess to any of the other injuries.
Huber told police about numerous accounts of domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend. Mercer currently had been arrested on two different domestic violence charges in the past two months.
Mercer admitted to making death threats to the child and telling Huber when they fought he would, “kill the baby and make her watch as the baby died.”
Both Mercer and Huber have extensive criminal histories involving drugs, theft, assault, fraud and domestic violence.
Huber is a convicted felon and has been charged with child abuse neglect in the past and lost custody of her two other children to the state of Utah who were later placed for adoption, making this her third child to be removed from her custody.
Police said Huber is also a victim as she has been continually manipulated and abused by Mercer, who is the primary suspect in the abuse.
Mercer was charged on Friday with two counts of second-degree felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Huber was charged with one count third-degree felony child abuse, inflicting physical injury recklessly.
Advocates always encourage people to reach out and seek help for any domestic violence situation. UDVC has a 24-hour hotline for anyone who needs help or has a family member in that situation.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect contact the DCFS 24/7 hotline: 855-323-3237. For more information, visit dcfs.utah.gov.