exposing the dark side of adoption
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Author: BYLINE: Bill Gardner, Staff Writer

A Lakeville baby who died last week of a skull fracture also had suffered 14 broken bones in the previous two months, according to police reports filed in connection with a search of the parents' home.

Jessica McClure, 10 months old, suffered a broken collar bone, three broken ribs and fractures of bones in the hand, wrist, leg, and upper arm, X-rays revealed.

``The presence of multiple fractures in many parts of the body that are older and healing shows a pattern of ongoing child abuse,'' says a report by Dr. Judd Reaney of Minneapolis Children's Medical Center. Parts of Reaney's report were quoted in the Lakeville police report.

Jessica's mother, Julie McClure, initially told investigators the child had no broken bones or falls before Aug. 15, when she was taken to a Burnsville hospital with the skull fracture. The McClures, who could not be reached for comment Friday, were in the process of adopting the child, whom they had obtained in February.

No charges have been filed, but the death is being investigated as a homicide, according to Lakeville Police Chief Don Gudmundson.

The McClure baby died Aug. 17 immediately after life support systems were disconnected at Minneapolis Children's Medical Center.

Two days earlier, the Lakeville Police had responded to an emergency call from the girl's mother, who said the girl had fallen while standing at a kitchen chair. The child was not breathing and had no heartbeat.

First aid restored a heartbeat, and the child was taken by ambulance to Ridges Hospital in Burnsville and then flown by helicopter to Minneapolis Children's Medical Center.

When investigators told the girl's mother her injuries were inconsistent with the fall the woman had described, she said her daughter had actually fallen twice that day, once from a kitchen counter, the police report said. Julie McClure also allegedly told investigators that her husband, Robert, had played with Jessica after the first fall.

But Reaney's report said neither of the falls described by the mother would have caused such a serious injury. In addition, Reaney said, it was medically impossible for the child to sustain such injuries in a fall from a counter and then to be able to play with her father.

``The nature of these injuries was catastrophic and likely resulted in immediate loss of consciousness and coma,'' Reaney's report said.

During an Aug. 20 search of the McClure home, an investigator seized a piece of plasterboard with a dent in it about 40 inches from the floor. The dent was on a hallway wall and was about the size of the baby's head, the police report said.

Preliminary analysis by the state Bureau of Criminal Affairs found broken human hairs embedded in the dent that were consistent with human hairs found on the mattress sheet of Jessica McClure's crib, the report said.

1993 Aug 28