Police charge Carroll Township couple in son's death

Date: 2010-02-26
Source: ydr.com

The 7-year-old boy had nearly 80 external injuries on his body, 20 of them to his head, according to police.

By TED CZECH
Daily Record

A 7-year-old Carroll Township boy's body had nearly 80 external injuries - 20 of them to his head - according to court documents that charge his parents with his death.

The boy, Nathaniel M. Craver, died Aug. 24, 2009, at Hershey Medical Center from traumatic brain injury, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Nathaniel's adoptive parents, Nanette L. Craver, 54, and Michael J. Craver, 45, both of Blair Mountain Road in the northwestern York County township, were charged Friday with one count each of criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of children, and three counts each of criminal conspiracy.

The crimes occurred between May and Aug. 24, charging documents state.

Dr. Wayne K. Ross, a forensic pathologist, noted in an autopsy report that Nathaniel had swelling to his brain and brain stem, as well as an emaciated appearance, according to charging documents.

The charges relate to "things done and things not done" to Nathaniel by his parents, including not having him examined after he suffered his injuries, York County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said Friday.

"Clearly, when you're talking about the parent-child relationship, there's a duty to care" that was not followed by Nathaniel's parents, Barker said.

As a result of the investigation, Nathaniel's twin sister, who was also adopted by the Cravers, "is safe and being well cared for," Barker said Friday.

The Cravers were arraigned before District Judge Richard T. Thomas in Dillsburg and later placed in York County Prison without bail.

Police interviewed the Cravers about what happened just before Nathaniel's death, and Michael Craver told them Nathaniel had fallen, hitting his head on a stove, court documents state.

Nanette Craver told police that she was upstairs and heard Nathaniel say "uh-oh," which is what he usually said before he fell. She said he only had a mark and a little puffiness on his face. She gave him an ice pack and put him to bed, but when she woke up in the morning, she found Nathaniel breathing but unresponsive, according to charging documents.

A week before that, Nathaniel "threw himself down the stairs" and struck his head on a post, his father told police.

Michael Craver told police that two years ago, York County Children and Youth Services had taken Nathaniel and his twin sister from the Cravers' home, although charging documents did not say why they were removed.

While under their care, Michael and Nanette Craver said, Nathaniel was prescribed medication so that he "wouldn't hurt himself" but they took him off it because it was not working, charging documents state.

They also removed Nathaniel and his sister from school about two years ago "because they received no cooperation from the school," charging documents state.

Police also spoke with Sandy and Robert Craver, Michael Craver's parents. Sandy Craver told police that when they stopped by the house to see the kids the weekend before Memorial Day, she was shocked to see that Nathaniel's eyes were completely swollen shut, and that he had a lump on his forehead the size of an egg.

When she asked about Nathaniel's condition, her son told her - very quickly and with "attitude" - that Nathaniel was always rubbing and scratching his eyes, according to charging documents.

Sandy and Robert Craver said they had seen Nathaniel bump into stuff, but nothing that would cause alarm. They added that when Nathaniel would do something wrong, even something minor, he would get scared and even shake.

Michael Craver's aunt, Sandy Atkins, visited the Cravers on either Aug. 12 or 13, and noticed head injuries to Nathaniel and that he was hanging onto her and would not let go, charging documents state.

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