EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMOTHER FACING CHARGES
from Eyewitness News Online
Police Say Boone Woman Caught On Camera Trying To Smother Baby
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Oct. 25, 2012 10:31 AM EDT
Updated: Oct. 26, 2012 8:59 AM EDT
Costa , Boone County , West Virginia
Disturbing allegations against a Boone County mother after police say she was caught on camera trying to smother her infant son. Now, that case is stretching across state lines.
Police say it's just the latest in a series of more than a dozen attempts made by Rachel Nora Nelson, 22, to smother her 4-month-old son, Eli.
"It's devastating for anybody and I'm a mother of four and I couldn't imagine that," said Nelson's next door neighbor, Leandra Baldwin.
Shock is now spreading across the tiny town of Costa in Boone County. An empty car seat sits outside her home on Costa Road, as her neighbors are left wondering why.
"This is a neighborhood that's quiet and you wouldn't never think of it here in Costa," said Baldwin.
Pittsburgh Police say Nelson tried as many as 15 times to suffocate the child between August and October. The baby was admitted to a Pittsburgh children's hospital last week after repeated episodes of breathing issues and concerns of child abuse.
Police say the abuse could have happened as many as 13 times here in West Virginia, with at least six of those cases being documented in local hospitals.
But it was in Pittsburgh where police say she was caught on camera. Hospital staff reviewed the surveillance video in the baby's room and said Nelson blocked the view of the child at the same time he stopped breathing. They say she was the only person who was awake in the room at the time. They say she later confessed to holding the baby to her chest and squeezing harder as he struggled for air.
"I don't think anyone can condone, justify in any way, whether a person would allege mental illness or whatever, you can't stand for an innocent 4-month-old child to be abused and be the victim of an attempted murder type situation," explained Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller.
Police don't believe the child's father had anything to do with the alleged abuse. He's since filed a domestic violence petition against his wife, as she awaits being released from a mental facility and charged in both states.
The baby is said to be in stable condition, but it's unclear if he's suffered permanent brain damage.
A West Virginia mother is facing felony charges after police say she allegedly attempted to smother her 4-month-old son at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh earlier this week.
Pittsburgh police charged Rachel Nelson, 22, of Costa, W.Va., with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child Thursday morning, Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller said.
Miller told Eyewitness News that his department is working with the Pittsburgh Police Department and that the major crime unit there is looking into more than a dozen incidents of attempted smothering, six of which allegedly occurred at a hospital in West Virginia.
WTAE in Pittsburgh reported that Nelson is in a mental hospital and that the little boy is in "stable" condition in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The boy was admitted Oct. 18 after suffering "intermittent respiratory distress," according to reports.
Nelson has been committed to Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic for evaluation. WTAE reports that the boy's father, Shawn Nelson, 43, has filed a domestic violence petition against Nelson, and he will not face charges.
Police said multiple attempts were made to suffocate the baby in West Virginia between August and October, before he was taken to Children's Hospital, and they think he was the victim of two similar incidents since being admitted to the hospital last week.
WTAE says surveillance video from the baby's Pittsburgh hospital room shows Nelson blocking the view of the child at the same time the boy stopped breathing. At the time, the mother was reportedly the only person awake in that room.
Nelson first told investigators that she blacked out during the hospital incidents but later acknowledged holding the baby to her chest and squeezing harder as he struggled for air and stopped breathing, police said.
A Boone County woman is facing charges after police say she attempted to smother her infant son after he was admitted to a Pittsburgh children's hospital.
An arrest warrant was issued for Rachel Nelson, 22, of Costa, W.Va., on Wednesday. Investigators said the baby boy was admitted to the hospital last week for episodes of breathing issues and "concerns of medical child abuse," The Associated Press reported.
Investigators reviewed surveillance video and said Nelson admitted to holding the baby to her chest until he stopped breathing while he was in intensive care Oct. 20. Nelson was taken to a psychiatric facility for evaluation, The AP reported.
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