Hatboro man Edward Doyle, 28, has been arrested and charged with a felony count of endangering the welfare of children in connection with the death of his 2-month-old daughter over the weekend, according to a release from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.
Investigators responded around 9:30 a.m yesterday to the Horsham Road apartment Doyle shares with his wife, 30-year-old Nicole Lavelle. Officers found Doyle's 2-month-old daughter Makayla lying on a bed in the master bedroom.
Police said the child was unresponsive and appeared to have a red, swollen forehead and cuts and bruises on the bridge of her nose. Makayla died at Abington Memorial Hospital within a half hour. The Montgomery County Coroner's Office is currently conducting an autopsy to determine exactly how the child died.
The Upper Moreland Police Department and Montgomery County Detective Bureau immediately opened a joint investigation into the child's death, treating the apartment as a crime scene. They allegedly found evidence of a boozy party the night before – one detective observed a Graco-brand infant swing in the apartment's living room, as well as what an affidavit describes as "the remnants of a card game and empty beer containers in the kitchen trash can and kitchen table."
Investigators who interviewed the adults involved were at first confronted with conflicting accounts of the hours leading up to the 2-month-old's tragic death. Doyle told police he went to a Willow Grove American Legion hall around 11 p.m. Saturday night to celebrate a friend's birthday. He estimated he drank about six pints of Budweiser at the bar before returning to his apartment with friends to play a card game around 3 a.m. the next morning, according to an affidavit.
Doyle first told police that his wife Lavelle left the apartment with neighbor Paul Sidwell to get a DVD during that time. He allegedly said that before his wife returned home, he fell asleep on the living room couch with Makayla seated beside him in a baby swing. Doyle said he awoke Sunday to find the child still in the swing, but "white as a ghost" and "limp."
When confronted with what investigators described as inconsistencies in his story, Doyle gave a second account, according to the affidavit. He told investigators he was with Lavelle at Sidwell's apartment in the early morning hours of Sunday until the couple had an argument over taxes and he returned to their apartment alone.
Doyle said that after he returned, Makayla began to cry, so he removed her from the swing and cradled her in his arms. He claimed that as he walked toward the kitchen, he tripped on the leg of the baby swing and landed on top of Makayla's body as he fell to the floor. Doyle allegedly said he checked to make sure the child was still breathing before putting her back into the swing.
Doyle told detectives he last checked on Makayla around 7:15 a.m. Sunday, when he gave the child her "binky," according to the affidavit Though he described the child as "groggy," he told police that she took the toy. Doyle allegedly admitted that he shouldn't have been caring for the baby because he "drank too much."
Neighbor Paul Sidwell gave police yet another account. He said he was at Doyle and Lavelle's apartment playing cards early Sunday morning when, around 3:30 a.m., all of the adults went outside to smoke a cigarette.
Sidwell recalled that he passed Makayla, who was in the living room seated in the swing. He said he awakened her with the sound of his voice and she briefly looked at him, then appeared to fall back asleep. Sidwell told police the child had no marks or bruises on her face at that point. He said that after finishing their cigarettes, he and Lavelle went back to Sidwell's unit, which was down the hall inside the same apartment building.
According to Sidwell, Doyle came over around 4:30 a.m. and argued with Lavelle about the couple's income tax returns and finances. After several minutes of fighting, Sidwell said Lavelle told Doyle to go back to their apartment to "be with the kids," and he left. Sidwell said Lavelle left between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m., and he watched her walk down the hall and into her apartment.
Lavelle told police that when she returned to her apartment – she claims the time was closer to 4 a.m. – she saw Doyle asleep on the sofa and Makayla asleep in the baby swing. Lavelle said she then went to sleep in the master bedroom.
Doyle was arraigned around 8 p.m. yesterday and is currently jailed at Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $1 million bail. He is next due in court for a preliminary hearing on March 5. It is unclear from court documents whether the man has hired a lawyer.