Poplar Bluff couple charged after child dies

Friday, January 7, 2005

Daily American Republic

Charges of first-degree child abuse and felony murder have been levied against the parents of a 2-week-old boy in connection with his death. The baby, Jacob Issac Conk, was born Dec. 12. He died at St. Louis Children's Hospital about 2:45 p.m. Monday.

The boy's mother, Stacey Lynn Conk Bame, 29, of Poplar Bluff, was originally charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a class C felony and the father, 19-year-old David Allen Tippen of Poplar Bluff, was originally charged with child abuse, a class B felony.

Poplar Bluff assistant police chief Gary Pride said felony murder is a lesser charge than first-degree or second-degree murder. It is not often used, he said, but is applied in cases where a death occurred as the result of another crime. He said that a jury would have the option of finding the couple guilty of either first-degree child abuse or felony murder. Both are class A felonies and carry a sentence ranging from 10 years to life.

Tippen and Bame are in the Butler County jail, each on a bond of $500,000.

The department first became aware of the alleged abuse Friday when officers were dispatched to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center to investigate an abuse incident. According to the police report, doctors at the hospital observed multiple injuries on the baby, including bruises on his head, face, shoulder, arms and back. The child also reportedly had a swollen eye, swollen head, fresh blood in both ears and was unresponsive when he was brought in by Bame. He was later taken by helicopter to St. Louis.

The baby's mother initially told police that the injuries were caused by a mishap in the shower and that he had stopped breathing, so she performed CPR until he began to breathe again. Bame told police she put the child down to sleep for the night, and when he awoke Friday, he was acting strange, so she decided to bring him to the emergency room for treatment.

She did acknowledge, according to police, that some alleged abuse had been occurring.

"She stated that her boyfriend, David Tippen, had been hitting the baby for a 'couple of days,'" the report said.

Running shower over child

Between 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 and noon Dec. 30, Bame told police she observed Tippen slap the baby's head and face several times, shake him and hold him by his neck and shake him. Tippen also allegedly gave the child several showers as discipline, laying him in the bottom of the bathtub while running the shower.

According to the report, Tippen also allegedly acknowledged he had hit the child. While on the way to a friend's house, the baby would not stop crying, Tippen said, so he reached back and struck the baby on the top of the head. On another occasion, Tippen spanked the child "too high," causing the bruise on his back. In his statement, Tippen told police he was spanking the baby because "he was holding formula in his mouth and spitting it up." Police said several witnesses also relayed instances of the alleged abuse that they had seen, including an incident late last week at the home of a friend of the couple. According to the witness, after Tippen became angry while playing a video game, he picked the baby up and slammed him into a chair. He then allegedly picked the child up by both hands and begin swinging him back and forth, causing his head to "flop" back and forth.

The witness said Bame "just looked back and forth between Mr. Tippen and the video game." In another incident, when another witness questioned Tippen's action, Bame reportedly told the witness, "He's the father. He knows what he's doing," the report said.

Southeast Missourian staff writer Linda Redeffer contributed to this report.

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