UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — A Utah County man is facing charges after allegedly placing his 4-month-old baby into scalding water, causing third-degree burns over much of the infant’s body.
Matthew Nielsen Beck, 41, was arrested Sunday on the count of aggravated child abuse, a third-degree felony, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said.
According to court records, police were called that night to University of Utah Hospital regarding a possible child abuse incident. Officials with Utah Division of Child and Family Services told police that the child suffered severe burns over 40% of his body, to the extent that his skin was “sloughing off his body.”
Beck, the boy’s father, did not call 911, nor did he call his wife, a registered nurse. He waited for more than an hour to take the infant to an Insta-Care facility, the charging affidavit states.
When investigators spoke with Beck, they learned he had been home alone with the baby and three other children. He allegedly told police that he filled a small tub up with water, placed his baby in the tub, and let the water continue to fill the tub until it was nearly full. He said the infant was crying when he put him in, but claimed this behavior was normal, the documents state.
After almost five minutes, Beck said he checked the water temperature, realized it was hot, and took the infant out. When he took the infant out and dried him off, Beck told police the infant’s skin started to fall off the lower half of his body.
Beck told police he took the infant to another bathroom, ran cold water over him, and put cold, wet towels on him, the documents state. He told police that he spent nearly an hour trying to cool the infant down, rubbing petroleum jelly on him. The infant’s skin continued to come off during this time.
Police spoke with Beck’s wife, who reportedly told them that the water heater was turned up to a higher setting several months ago because they were running out of water. According to her, “not only was [Beck] aware of this, he was the one who turned the water heater up,” the documents state.
Beck’s wife was told by a neighbor that when she responded to the bathroom to help Beck, the mirrors, toilet, and other items in the bathroom were steamy and damp as if the hot water had been running for some time, the documents state. The mother also stated that the infant crying in the bath was not normal.
She told police that Beck had used water temperature in the past to punish another one of their small children, the documents state. She stated that in that instance, Beck placed the child in extremely cold water and kept him there until he turned blue, saying it would “toughen him up.”
When police spoke to Beck a second time and told him that the burn line on his baby’s body did not coincide with his version of the incident, Beck said his version is “how he remembered it,” the documents state.
Police searched the bathroom and found pieces of the baby’s skin in the bathtub, on a towel, on the floor, on the bathmat, and in the garbage.
Beck was booked into the Utah County Jail and released Monday on a $5,000 bond.