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Toms River Woman Charged in Shaking Death of 14-Month-Old

Michelle A. Heale allegedly killed child through "violent shaking"

A Toms River babysitter is being held on $250,000 bail with no 10 percent option after being charged with the murder of a 14-month-old child, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday.

Authorities said that Michelle A. Heale, 44, was babysitting the child, Mason Hess, at her Toms River home on Aug. 28 when she allegedly violently shook him, causing injuries that led to his death days later, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement. 

At the time, Heale called police to report that the child was having difficulty breathing and Toms River police and emergency responders arrived to find the child "unconscious and not breathing," Gramiccioni said.

Hess was taken to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where doctors determined that he had sustained physical abuse and was in "grave" condition. It was determined by CHOP doctors on Aug. 31 that the child "was the victim of violent shaking that caused severe brain, spine and retinal damage," Gramiccioni said.

The child died from those injuries on Sept. 1 and an autopsy performed by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of death to be a homicide caused by blunt cerebral trauma, according to Gramiccioni.

The investigation was handled by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office because the father of the victim and the defendant's husband are employed by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Gramiccioni said.

"Murder is a crime of the first degree and carries a maximum sentence of lifetime in prison, and a minimum of 30 years in jail with a 30-year period of parole ineligibility," Gramiccioni said. "This charge is also subject to the 'No Early Release Act,' which means that, if convicted, Heale would not be paroled until she served 85 percent of the sentence imposed, if given more than the minimum 30-year sentence."

Director of Investigations Marc C. LeMieux is prosecuting the case and Heale is represented by Toms River attorney Karl Mohel.

Marina December 03, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Maybe the patch editor should remove this spammers post. Hello, Good Morning, wake up!!!!!
Marina December 03, 2012 at 04:52 PM
My sympathies to the family. As for the murderer, there is a special place in hell for her.
Brian December 03, 2012 at 06:31 PM
There are many studies that show that supposed cases of infant shaking are often misdiagnosed. Sometimes seizures or other medical conditions are to blame. Please reserve some judgement pending further evidence. There is also no evidence offered in this article that the abuse was caused by the babysitter as opposed to others who might have been in touch with the child.
Bryan December 08, 2012 at 07:14 PM
All these people really need to go back to school and learn our Constitution! Before rushing to judgement, why not wait for all of the facts to come out. As someone said above, a lot of studies have recently proven that shaken baby syndrome is often misdiagnosed. This is what a Trial is for; so 12 people can hear all of the facts and than cone to judgement. This is a tragedy, and unfairly rushing to judgement will just add to the tragedy.
Debbie Dowd December 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
There is no way in hell this person could of did this. Get all your facts straight.

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