Charges against pair bound over to court in abuse case

MIFFLINTOWN – Two parents charged in connection with the abuse of their 5-week-old baby were present for preliminary hearings Wednesday at Magisterial District Judge Barbara Lyter’s office.

Joshua Sheaffer, 26, and Rebecca Keller, 25, both of Richfield, are charged with numerous offenses relating to the abuse of their son, Charlie Sheaffer, who allegedly sustained bruising and possibly fractured ribs.

Keller’s charges do not stem from physical abuse on the baby, but from allegedly concealing the abuse allegedly perpetrated by Sheaffer. Keller waived her hearing and charges of endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person were bound over to the Juniata County Court of Common Pleas. She remains free on $20,000 bail and her attorney is Sean Potter.

Sheaffer chose to have a hearing Wednesday and several Pennsylvania State Police troopers testified about the investigation into the alleged abuse, including Criminal Investigator Michael Elder who took a written statement from Keller while she was in Hershey at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with her son on June 26.

Elder testified Keller’s statement was filled with incidents of alleged abuse by Sheaffer including one in which Sheaffer claimed he beat the child because the child was fussy. There also were several allegations brought forth by Keller pertaining to the night of June 25, when she says she brought the child to Shawn Feltman’s residence, where she says Sheaffer had been hanging out.

Feltman testified Sheaffer had been drinking alcohol that night and put the baby on the ground face down and at one point he put the baby in a pizza box.

Feltman testified Sheaffer was joking around and was going to put a hot pepper in the baby’s mouth, but he stopped him.

“I didn’t think he wanted to hurt the kid,” Feltman said.

When asked by Juniata County District Attorney Cory Snook, if he thought Sheaffer was a good father, Feltman’s reply was “Yes, when he is not drinking,”.

According to court documents, while at Feltman’s, Sheaffer threw a piece of pizza crust at the child, which struck him in the crotch.

Police said Keller told them that on the drive home, the baby began to fuss and Sheaffer stuck his finger in his mouth to calm him and the child then began to gag.

According to court documents, Keller pulled the car over and used a suction syringe to remove any mucus from the baby’s mouth and noticed blood. The child also went limp and his eyes were crossed.

Keller continued to drive home while Sheaffer held the baby in the front passenger seat. Keller said Sheaffer hit the baby’s face and upper body, at which point the child let out a high pitched scream, court documents indicate.

Sheaffer then held the child out the window of the moving car for a period of 15 seconds, court documents indicate.

Police said Keller was then threatened by Sheaffer who said he would slit the throats of her and the baby if she took the child to the hospital because he would go to jail.

According to court documents, when Sheaffer and Keller arrived back at their house Sheaffer repeated “Just die, just die, I hate you. Just die,” and then he continued to threaten Keller and the baby.

An ambulance was called and the baby was taken to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, police said.

Sheaffer remains free on $75,000 bail. He is represented by Shawn Dorward.

All of Sheaffer’s charges were bound over to court which include, aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.