BY DAVID HENCH

The Portland Press Herald

An Arundel man lifted his infant son by the head and threw him into a chair in the days before the baby’s death, according to police.

And court papers say the state was notified about injuries to both Ethan Henderson, who died early Tuesday after sustaining massive brain injuries, and another child in the family.

Ethan, two-and- a-half months old, was apparently the victim of previous abuse, though it’s not clear why those injuries did not come to the attention of child protection workers or were not acted on.

His father, Gordon Collins-Faunce, 23, is being held in York County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, and was charged with assault before Ethan died. Prosecutors in the attorney general’s office will decide this week if new charges will be brought.

The charges could include manslaughter, which is criminal negligence or recklessness that causes a death, or depraved indifference murder, when a person engages in conduct “so heinous … that it shows a total disregard for the value of human life,” said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.

Ethan’s twin brother, Lucas, and a three-year-old half-sister have been removed from the home at 521 Limerick Road. A family friend said Tuesday that the children’s mother, Christina Henderson, 23, formerly of Farmington, will petition to have them returned now that Collins-Faunce is out of the house.

There are no accusations against Henderson in the police report.

The report does quote Collins-Faunce saying he earlier broke Ethan’s arm.

Under questioning by police, Collins-Faunce at first said the arm injury was an accident, that the baby’s arm had been stuck between the crib and a protective bumper when he lifted him, snapping the upper left arm. Later he said he had intentionally twisted the boy’s arm out of frustration because he was having trouble changing the baby’s diaper.

It does not say whether the child saw a doctor for that injury.

The report quotes doctors saying Ethan had both old and new brain injuries. Doctors said he presented as a dirty child, with diaper rash, dirt under the nails of his fingers and toes and an unwashed belly button.

The police affidavit prepared by Maine State Police Detective Lauren Edstrom in support of arresting Collins-Faunce describes in detail how Collins-Faunce apparently lost control, squeezing the child’s head and throwing him into a chair so hard the infant’s head snapped backward.

Collins-Faunce has been taking medication for post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being physically and sexually abused as a child by foster parents, the affidavit said.

The police account also notes that the Department of Health and Human Services received a referral from a day care provider that Ethan’s three-year-old half-sister came to daycare covered in bruises. The referral also said Ethan and Lucas were sick and not being treated.

The police affidavit does not indicate when the daycare provider made the referral or whether DHHS had initiated an investigation.

John Martins, spokesman for the agency, said confidentiality laws prohibit the agency from discussing case specifics, including when a referral was made or what action was or was not taken in this case. He said that any time there is a complaint of child abuse, the agency investigates.

“It doesn’t matter whether there’s a past history or alleged past history with a family, we have a very rigorous intake process,” he said. “We investigate every complaint and determine based on intake and interviews what the next step ought to be.”

There is nothing in the police report suggesting that Collins-Faunce was responsible for the three-year-old’s bruises. The report also does not implicate anyone else in the household.

‘I was losing control’

The police report does not detail what medical attention any of the children received before Ethan was brought in Saturday. However, Henderson told police that the twins had been sick the previous week and were given medicine for a viral infection.

The report says that police were called to Maine Medical Center Saturday afternoon for a report of an infant in a coma.

Collins-Faunce at first told police that he found Ethan in his crib, having trouble breathing and gurgling, with spit coming out of his mouth.

“He appeared to be gasping for breath. (Ethan’s) face was pale and he was limp,” the report quotes Collins-Faunce saying. “His eyes were only open halfway and he had ‘lockjaw.'”

Collins-Faunce gave the baby to his stepmother, Debra White, and called 911. She waited outside the mobile home with the baby until the ambulance arrived.

The baby was taken to Southern Maine Medical Center and then transferred to the Special Care Unit at Maine Medical Center. There was severe bleeding around the brain.

Saturday morning, Collins-Faunce did not have to go to work at his job as a flagger on a road crew. Henderson woke just before 6 a.m. and fed Lucas. Ethan was the smaller of the two boys and often ate less, she said. When she left for work 9:30 a.m., Lucas was in a swing and Ethan was in his crib. Collins-Faunce was on the computer in the living room.

During a followup interview Sunday, Collins-Faunce told police how on that morning, after Henderson left, he went outside to have a cigarette. When he returned, Ethan and his sister were both crying.

Collins-Faunce said he was frustrated and overwhelmed.

“I was losing control,” he said.

He picked the baby up off a floor mat by his head.

“He said he stood up straight and held (Ethan) by the head with both hands for ‘one minute max,'” the report said.

Collins-Faunce held the baby’s head so that both his feet were dangling chest high, then threw him into a living room chair.

“On a scale of 1-10, he estimated his force to be 8 or 9,” the report says. “He said he saw (Ethan’s) head snap back when he landed in the chair.”

Following that interview, doctors alerted police that Ethan’s condition had worsened, that there was no brain activity at all on the left side, that half the baby’s brain was essentially dead.

The baby was taken off life support and died shortly after midnight.

Ethan was target

Nicole Tucker said she is a friend of Henderson’s from their hometown of Farmington and has known both parents for about a year. She said during an interview at the family’s house that she held Ethan at the hospital shortly before his death.

“It was absolutely devastating to see that innocent child like that. It didn’t seem like him,” she said.

Tucker said that Collins-Faunce took out his anger on Ethan — not his brother — and that Henderson was unaware of it.

“He’s been targeting Ethan and she just didn’t realize it,” Tucker said. She said she didn’t know why he picked Ethan.

Collins-Faunce told police that he was in the military but was discharged after he held a knife to a roommate’s throat. Tucker said Collins-Faunce did not serve overseas.

He also told police he had been an alcoholic for most of 2010, but that he had since quit drinking. He had been taking medication for post-traumatic stress disorder but the prescription had recently changed, and he was having trouble sleeping.

Tucker said Collins-Faunce took mood stablizers and the new prescription seemed to be working well. He had been quiet and when he got frustrated, he would walk away.

“The day this happened, he didn’t take his meds,” she said.

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.