WENTZVILLE • A man from Wentzville shoved his fingers down the throat of his 6-week-old son. He wanted to find the baby’s voice box and stop him from crying.
More abuse followed. The baby was thrown onto a bed. Shaken violently. Picked up by the back of his neck.
All the while the baby’s mother watched and made no effort to get help.
That’s the harrowing account spelled out in St. Charles County court records documenting the abuse against the infant boy, identified only as J.B. Social media identifies him as Jaxon James Burnette, born on Sept. 27.
The boy was still alive on Friday morning but “extremely critical,” the prosecutor’s office said. He was in protective custody and being treated at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for, among other things, bleeding on the brain and broken bones. Doctors have told police it’s “a likely possibility” the boy will die.
The boy’s father, Robert James Burnette, is held in lieu of $500,000 cash-only bail. Burnette, 19, was charged Tuesday with abuse or neglect of a child, causing serious emotional or physical injury. The crime is a felony, punishable in Missouri by up to 15 years in prison.
The baby’s mother, Megan L. Hendricks, 20, witnessed the abuse and didn’t call for help, police say. She faces the same charge, which was filed Wednesday. Her bail is half of Burnette’s: $250,000, cash only.
The abuse happened between Oct. 18 and Nov. 7 at the couple’s home in the 100 block of St. Charles Street in Wentzville, and involved more than putting fingers into the infant’s throat, records allege.
According to Wentzville Police Detective Sean Rosner, Burnette violently shook the baby. He slammed the baby’s face into the bed and held him there. The baby’s mother and a roommate saw the abuse, police say.
In an interview with police, Burnette allegedly admitted shaking the baby and “being too rough with him,” Rosner said.
Hendricks told police she saw Burnette abuse the boy three times, including grabbing the baby by the back of the neck and slamming him into the bed to get him to stop crying, Rosner said.
She saw Burnette stick his fingers into the boy’s throat to find his voice box to get him to stop crying, Rosner said.
Hendricks told police she and Burnette were aware of the dangers of shaking a baby because they had both been required to watch a video before leaving the hospital after the baby’s birth.
Dr. Linda Shaw told detectives that if the baby survived, there was a strong possibility he would have extreme physical and mental disabilities, Rosner said.
Officials say Burnette has a history of violent tendencies. Burnette’s parents told police that he had tried to kill his own brother over the years by beating or stabbing him and trying to smother or drown him, Rosner said. Burnette has been in mental institutions for severe anger issues, court records say.
In a statement to police, Hendricks admitted that she knew her son was in danger. She had been to her parents’ home nearby several times with the boy but never asked for help. When officers asked why she didn’t take action to get the boy into a safe environment, she said she didn’t want to have a confrontation with Burnette. She said she was worried her father would harm Burnette, and she would rather stay with Burnette than have that happen.
She admitted she lied at the hospital, telling doctors she didn’t know how the baby was injured. Police say she never showed emotion during their interrogation. She referred to her son not by his name but by “the kid” or “the baby.”
She feigned crying at one point but stopped when the officer left the interrogation room, police say.
In addition to bleeding of the brain, the baby has suffered possible liver contusions, a broken upper arm, new and old clavicle fractures and multiple rib fractures in various stages of healing, authorities say.
Burnette and Hendricks are scheduled to appear in court next on Tuesday.