29-Year-Old Step-Grandmother Charged With Murdering Baby After Summer Day at NYC Playground

Jeremiah Callaghan, 11 months, died Sept. 6, 2017 after days on life support at various hospitals

What to Know

  • A 29-year-old step-grandmother has been charged with murdering an 11-month-old boy in her care after a summer day at the playground
  • Shanica Callaghan allegedly beat little Jeremiah so badly he suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain, neck and spinal cord injuries
  • She is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and child endangerment

A 29-year-old step-grandmother has been charged with murdering an 11-month-old boy in her care after a summer day at the playground, beating him so viciously he suffered a fractured skull and traumatic injuries to his brain, neck and spinal cord, according to a criminal complaint. 

Shanica Callaghan, of Queens, was arrested April 24 in the Sept. 6, 2017 death of her step grandson, Jeremiah Callaghan. Shanica Callaghan and her husband, the baby's maternal grandfather, had sole custody of the boy by an order of placement issued by Texas State Department of Family and Protective Services in 2016. 

According to a criminal complaint obtained by News 4 Wednesday, Callaghan and her husband had brought Jeremiah and their three biological children to a playground in Rosedale around 6 p.m. on Aug. 31. 

Shanica Callaghan reported Jeremiah was playing and behaving normally for the next hour and a half. She walked home with the baby, while her husband and children walked ahead of her with their bicycles. Shanica Callaghan said Jeremiah was with her throughout the day and did not suffer any injuries over the course of the day, the complaint says. 

Her husband told authorities he stayed outside when they all returned from the playground; Jeremiah was playing normally. Then Shanica Callaghan took him inside to feed him. 

Shanica Callaghan then called her husband, he said, and told him the boy was having a problem. The husband found Jeremiah vomiting and gasping for air. The baby was taken to a hospital in cardiac arrest and put on life support. He was later transferred to a children's hospital, where an examination found he suffered brain bleeding, extensive retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, a detached left retina and major spinal cord injury, according to the criminal complaint. 

Jeremiah remained on life support until he died on Sept. 6. 

An autopsy conducted two days later found a skull fracture in addition to the traumatic injuries ascertained days earlier at the children's hospital. A medical examiner said the baby was killed by abusive head trauma, including "violent, repetitive forces of acceleration and deceleration and significant blunt force trauma being applied to the complainant's head and body." 

Authorities concluded the baby could not have been in good health, as was reported by Shanica Callaghan and her husband, prior to when he started vomiting. He would have started vomiting immediately or almost immediately after he was hurt, they said. 

Shanica Callaghan is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and child endangerment. It wasn't immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. 

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