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Baby's death probed

Mother says child fell down; medical examiner says head iniuries were inconsistent with a fall.

By Shawn Carey

Syracuse Herald Journal

GENEVA — The death of the 13-month-old adopted daughter of a Geneva couple is being investigated as a homicide.

Meghen Hawkms-Rusch was pronounced dead at 210 p.m Saturday at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester On Sunday, the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office in Rochester determined that the child died of head injuries.

As of late Monday afternoon, no one had been charged, Geneva Police Chief Frank PaneJr said.

The child's adoptive mother, Lisa Hawkins-Rusch, 28, told hospital personnel that the girl was injured when she fell Friday night in the family's living room at 401 High St, Pane said.

The autopsy disputed the mother's claim, he said. "We're investigating this because the baby died of a head injury of a suspicious nature," Pane said "The medical examiner determined these injuries couldn't have happened from a fall"

The child was taken to Geneva General Hospital at 7 30 p.m. Friday, then flown by helicopter to Strong Memorial, Pane said After the child was examined, Child Protective Services of Ontario County was notified, Pane said The incident was reported to Geneva police at 4 a m Saturday

Lisa Hawkins-Rusch told a hospital caseworker tnat she and her husband, Stephen Rusch, adopted their daughter from an orphanage in China June 22.

Lisa Ha", kins Rusch is a fifth grade teacher in the Geneva City School District, Superintendent Vincent Scalise said. Stephen Rusch, 33, teaches at Newark High Scnool in Wayne County, principal Dave Paddock said

The two were not at work Monday and could not be reached for comment They have an unpublished telephone number

The two have no other children, but a Geneva High School exchange student, Chu Chi Gonzalez, 17, is living at the couple's home, Pane said.

1992 Sep 29