Union County parents facing assault charges after police say they injured an infant

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MIFFLINBURG, UNION COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Mifflinburg man and woman are being charged with aggravated assault after an infant sustained a brain bleed and fractured ribs, police say.

An infant was brought to Evangelical Community Hospital in May, where a medical evaluation found subdural hemorrhage bleeding along with older brain bleeding. Police say the physician became concerned for the infant’s welfare after the parents provided a vague description for what caused the injury.

Christopher Catherman, the father of the infant, spoke to police explaining to them that the baby “face butted” him while being burped after feeding. The mother of the infant, Tonya Kistler, also told officers she dropped her cell phone on the baby’s head.

Police say they recovered a text message from Kistler to Catherman saying she was “at her wits end” with taking care of the baby.

The parents returned for an interview with police where Kistler also said she bumped the child’s head on the changing table while changing its diaper, court papers say.

Doctors told officers the infant also had fractured ribs and that it appeared to be an older injury that was healing.

Catherman later admitted to causing injury to the infant, police say. Catherman’s written statement said “I tried burping him before putting him back to bed. While burping him I was a little too rough when smacking his back and caused his head to repeatedly smash off my shoulder.”

Officers asked Catherman if he thought he caused the injuries to the infant to which Catherman said “if his burping was forceful enough to cause a brain bleed, then it is very likely”. An officer asked Catherman about the fractured ribs and he states that he may have been holding him too tightly while burping him, court papers say.

An interview was conducted with Kistler where she told officers the infant was fussing and crying and wouldn’t stop. She admitted that she held the child in front of her, squeezed and shook him for approximately three seconds before putting him down, the affidavit says.

Kistler and Catherman are being charged with two counts of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

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