published Friday, October 12th, 2012

Fatal injuries of baby in Hamilton County not apparent at first look

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    Jessica Fax, 28, faces a charge of criminal homicide after her 12-week-old niece sustained multiple skull fractures under her care, according to Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Fax told detectives she dropped the child on the floor.

On a quiet street filled with modest homes, Elizabeth Mia Fry was born to parents working in public safety.

Her father, Jeremy Fry, is a 911 dispatcher for Hamilton County. Her mother, Marianne, works for Silverdale Detention Center as a captain overseeing the corrections facility.

While working, they left their 12-week-old infant in care of the wife of Marianne's brother, 28-year-old Jessica Lynne Fax. On Tuesday morning, their daughter was dead.

Fax told Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigators she "dropped the baby on the floor then fed her and put her to bed," according to an affidavit of complaint.

However, a medical examiner's report shows the child died of blunt force trauma to the head and said it's possible there were multiple impacts.

"The area of the floor is covered in new carpet with new padding and could not have caused the injury to the child," the affidavit states.

Fax now faces a charge of criminal homicide and is in Bradley County Jail on a $125,000 bond.

Initial examinations of the baby's body appeared to show no signs of external injuries, according to Bruce Wainer, Hamilton County associate medical examiner. It wasn't until a day or two later that bruises appeared and the body was re-examined Thursday morning, Wainer said.

Wainer, a forensic pathologist who is board certified in neuropathology, performed an autopsy and completed full body X-rays on the infant and found multiple skull fractures, contusions on the child's head and face, scalp hemorrhages and brain swelling, according to a preliminary diagnosis report.

More tests are pending for internal injuries, Wainer said in an interview.

"These are the most upsetting cases, even for someone who's been doing this for years and years," Wainer said. "It's something you don't get used to."

Fax and her husband live just across the street from the Fry residence. The homes on Fort Sumter Drive are tucked away in a neighborhood adjacent to Highway 58 in Harrison.

On Thursday morning, cars lined part of the street as the family grieved inside. A woman standing near the porch of the Fry's home declined to comment. A man who answered the door at Fax's residence also declined to comment.

Fax, who has no prior record in Hamilton County, has her next court date set for Monday before Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Ronald Durby.

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