Parachute mom told police dad shook baby
Phyllis Wyatt awoke late June 19 or early June 20 to see Matthew Ogden violently shaking and screaming at their baby daughter, she told police after the month-old child was discovered unresponsive that Saturday morning in their Parachute apartment.
“She immediately thought that Matthew Ogden was responsible for the death of her child,” said an arrest affidavit prepared by Lisa Miller, chief investigator for the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Wyatt, known as Amy to her friends, told authorities she didn’t do anything to stop Ogden; she said she was afraid of him and was “a prisoner in her own home.”
Ogden and Wyatt, who lived together and had twins in Grand Junction on May 18, were arrested Monday in Minnesota. Ogden, 29, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Sarah. Wyatt, 41, faces charges of child abuse causing death with criminal negligence.
Sarah’s twin brother, Timothy, was unhurt and was taken from the couple, Parachute Police Chief Cary Parmenter told the Post Independent today.
“He wasn’t injured in any way,” Parmenter said. “I don’t know at this point if he’s with family or still with DHS.”
The arrest affidavit portrays two troubled people struggling with parenting.
Wyatt, who described herself to investigators as bipolar, had said at the hospital before giving birth that she had could drive off a cliff, killing herself and the babies — but told investigators she didn’t mean it.
Ogden told authorities he is schizophrenic.
He said he woke up because the baby was crying, and then offered several versions of what might have happened to Sarah.
In one version, he said, he bottle-fed Sarah, burped her and placed her next to him on the couple’s bed, saying Timothy also was there. He said when he woke up, the girl wasn’t breathing.
An autopsy, though, found no evidence of formula in the baby’s stomach.
An autopsy that determined the cause of death to be “multiple blunt force injuries,” showed blunt force impact to the baby’s forehead, subdural hematoma in the brain and bruising to the liver. It determined that the injuries occurred several hours before death. The child was unresponsive when authorities came to the apartment after receiving a 911 call from a roommate — another couple lived in the apartment with Ogden and Wyatt.
Interviewed on June 22, Ogden offered several explanations for how Sarah may have suffered the injuries.
He said at different points that she may have hit her head in her bouncy chair, a dog had knocked her off the couch, she hit it on the windowsill, a cousin may have hurt her or Ogden may have hit her with his own head while asleep.
The affidavit said he finally settled on a story that, two days before the death, he was excited by seeing Wyatt showering and jumped onto the bed, bouncing Sarah into the air and causing her to hit her head on a windowsill.
This was not consistent with the injuries, the affidavit said.
Neighbors at the Cottonwood View apartments said Monday evening that Ogden had seemed excited about parenthood.
Bill Matthews, a resident of the apartment complex for the past four months, said Ogden would regularly stop by for a beer.
“He always told me, ‘This is my time,’” Matthews said.
Angelica Alvarez said Ogden approached her a few weeks ago trying to sell his marijuana pipes.
“He looked really excited,” Alvarez said, adding that Ogden approached her several times after that first encounter, “as if he didn’t know who we were.”
Alvarez, a mother of four who has lived at Cottonwood for the past two years, said she never met the mother.
Parachute police issued warrants for Ogden and Wyatt on Friday and said the couple may have fled to either California or Minnesota.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office in north-central Minnesota said Monday it got a tip that the couple might be at a home in the Cass Lake area. Cass County authorities, the Leech Lake Tribal Police Department and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested the pair without incident.
Ninth District Attorney Sherry Caloia said that extradition might begin as soon as today.
The warrant for Ogden accuses him of first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and child abuse causing bodily injury.
Back at Cottonwood View, residents were shaken.
“It’s sad,” Alvarez said. “To have something like that makes you think what kind of people are living here.”
Matthews, who described the apartment complex as the type of place where personal belongings can be left outside overnight without fear of theft, said the atmosphere has been tense.
“You just don’t know who is going to snap next,” he said. “It’s been tough.”
Matthews said Ogden and Wyatt stopped by two days after their baby’s death, and the couple did not seem that affected by it.
“Maybe that’s just how people deal with it,” he said.
Rifle Citizen Telegram editor Ryan Hoffman contributed to this story.
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