Montgomery County man accused of killing his infant son led investigators to the shallow grave where authorities say he buried the 5-week-old child after killing him with blunt trauma .
Caleb Michael Whisnand Sr., 32, led sheriff’s investigators to a rural area of Enfinger Road in Lowndes County, where they found the toddler, CJ, dead, a detective said today.
According to this testimony, the mother of the baby, Angela Gardener, was also at the scene with the police. Whisnand ran over to her, gave her a hug and said, “I’m sorry.”
“He said it was an accident, he hit his head,” Montgomery County Sheriff’s investigator John Shepherd said in a preliminary hearing before District Judge Tiffany McCord.
Shortly after, Shepherd said: Whisnand “looked at me and asked me to shoot him”.
At this point, the investigator said, he handcuffed Whisnand for safety measures.
Whisnand is charged with capital murder in the murder of CJ
The investigation began on the night of Monday, May 10, when the father called 911 from Circle K on Wetumka Road in Montgomery County to report CJ’s disappearance. The Alabama law enforcement agency in the early morning of May 11 issued a missing child alert in CJ’s disappearance.
The case is being pursued by Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutors Scott Green and Ben McGough. Whisnand is represented by lawyers Mickey McDermott and Karen H. Jackson.
During the hour-long hearing, the investigator recounted the events leading up to CJ’s kidnapping at 10:49 p.m. on May 10.
Lawyers responded that night to the Circle K. Shepherd was among the many lawyers who responded to the scene and noticed that there was an infant seat base but no infant seat in the scene. Father’s white Ford Escort.
“We watched video footage at Circle K,” Shepherd said. “We did not see anyone take the child to this place.”
This video showed Whisnand arrived at the store at 10:28 p.m., approximately 20 minutes before reporting the kidnapping.
The father told investigators he left his home with the baby the previous Saturday night and went to work on a friend’s car and then on another friend’s car on Sunday.
At one point he said he left the baby with a friend. He also said that another friend’s wife watched over the baby while he worked on their vehicle.
There was no precise timeline of Whisnand’s actions and whereabouts on Sunday.
By tracking his cell phone, authorities were able to pinpoint his location on several occasions Monday in the hours leading up to the boy’s missing report.
The last time investigators saw CJ alive on video was at 12:43 p.m. Monday at a Montgomery County Walmart.
Whisnand visited several locations on Monday, all in the Montgomery County area, but the only unusual location was Lowndes County.
Initially, he did not tell investigators he had been to County Lowndes, but when confronted with data from his cell phone, Whisnand said he had “run away from home. drug”.
They also had a video of Whisnand withdrawing money from a bank to pay back the money he owed his brother.
In this video, he was wearing a green shirt and blue jeans. In a video later that day, after returning from County Lowndes, investigators saw Whisnand filling his vehicle with gas at a Shell station.
This video showed Whisnand tossing a Mickey Mouse pacifier and children’s sock into the trash, as well as a green shirt the dad had seen wearing in the previous video. At this point, Shepherd said, the father was wearing a red shirt.
“I felt something was wrong,” Shepherd said.
All the items were collected from the trash. CJ’s infant seat and changing bag have never been found.
Investigators said Whisnand’s memory seemed “patchy” and his behavior “semi-conscious” and erratic. He was showing signs of lack of sleep.
“He kept telling me he was tired,” Shepherd said.
Investigators took Whisnand to another room in the headquarters to let him take a nap. He slept about six hours, Shepherd said, and seemed more consistent when he woke up.
Two days after the boy’s disappearance, on Wednesday May 12, Whisnand and Angela Gardner took part in a press conference.
The boy’s father told reporters, “I don’t remember much, but I remember I broke up, you know, with the cops. If anybody has anything, any place I could have been, you know who you are.
It was after the press conference that investigators recovered CJ’s remains and her father was charged with death. Shepherd said investigators asked the parents to hold the press conference to help them locate CJ.
It was after the press conference, while being questioned again by investigators, that Whisnand agreed to take them to CJ’s body.
“He led investigators straight into a shallow grave,” Shepherd said.
At one point, the investigator said, Whisnand told them that CJ had not reacted when he left his brother’s house and tried to perform CPR. As he was unable to resuscitate him, he took his son’s body to County Lowndes.
When CJ’s body was found, Shepherd said, there was no obvious sign of foul play. Once the dirt was washed into the medical examiner’s office, he said, there were visible injuries.
Forensic pathologist Dr David Rydzewski of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences said CJ had a complex fracture of the skull on the right side of his head measuring 1 ¾ to 2 inches long. He said the child also had bleeding all over the surface of his skull, as well as subdural hemorrhage.
There was damage to the optic nerves and a broken right tibia.
He said the only way CJ’s death could be an accident is if the child had a serious car accident and was not tied up or “fell from a fifth floor. “. He said the death could not have occurred as a result of an “everyday accident”.
“This is an acute injury and the child died within minutes of the injury,” Rydzewski said.
The judge ruled that there were enough probable reasons to send the case back to a grand jury for consideration.
She also issued a gagging order in the case, which was requested by lawyers for Whisnand and challenged by prosecutors.
Gardner was not in the courtroom, but Whisnand’s parents were present. They communicated with their son by hand gestures.
Margaret Hope, CJ’s grandmother and Gardner’s mother, said AL.com the boy’s father picked up CJ while Gardner slept on the night of May 8.
“She didn’t have her son on Mother’s Day or Monday,” Hope said.
“Angela is a great mother and she is overprotective towards her children. She was so happy when she gave birth. I was there when she gave birth to the baby. I can’t believe the SOB killed her baby.
Hope said the father “knew he killed this baby and needed to find an excuse.”
Caleb Whisnand is being held without bail.