Autopsy revealed 36 rib fractures on 4-month-old NE Iowa infant who died

Dean Hettinger

A caretaker of a four-month-old child in northeast Iowa who has been charged with murder is accused of causing 36 rib fractures.

Posted: May 17, 2019 11:10 AM
Updated: May 17, 2019 11:18 AM

FAYETTE COUNTY, Iowa - A caretaker of a four-month-old child in northeast Iowa who has been charged with murder is accused of causing 36 rib fractures.

Dean Hettinger, 22, of Westgate, is facing one count of first-degree murder and one count of child endangerment causing death and is being held on $1M bond.

The victim, four-month-old Holten Smith, of Westgate, was taken to Community Memorial Hospital in Sumner on April 29, 2018, when his guardians reported he was seizing.

On April 30, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Iowa DHS after the child was found to have brain injuries.

The child was transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics before dying on May 27, 2018.

An autopsy found 36 rib fractures, and “according to doctors, the injuries suffered by the child were consistent with inflicted trauma,” the criminal complaint states.

“The defendant committed an act or series of acts which caused the child to be transported to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.”

During the examination, the child was found to be suffering from bleeding on the brain.

Hettinger was arrested Thursday and charged with murder.

He was taken into custody at the Black Hawk County Jail where he was incarcerated on unrelated charges.

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