6/29/12 @ 8:26:59 pm
John Morton. Photo by MCSD.
John Morton of Crowley Road initially said the boy had nearly drowned in a baby bathtub. However, Marion County Sheriff's Department Investigator Anthony Decker says he and the Department of Children and Family Services were later notified by Cardinal Glennon Hospital officials the boy had suffered abuse that caused significant brain damage. Medical officials believe the injuries were caused by Morton shaking or squeezing the baby to such a degree it sustained the brain injury.
A nearly month and a half investigation followed that led to the issuance of a warrant for Morton's arrest on Thursday. Morton could not be located at his home Thursday or Friday morning, but was arrested late Friday morning during a chance traffic stop by sheriff's deputies on Route 161 at Cedar Creek Road. Decker said Morton offered no resistance.
Decker reports hospital officials feared at one point the boy was near death as a result of hemorrhaging to the brain. However, after two to three weeks in the hospital, the baby was released and is currently living with a relative. Decker said Morton had taken the unconscious two month old to his father's home where both provided CPR. The boy was initially transported to St. Mary's Hospital in Centralia and then airlifted to Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
The lengthy investigation was completed by Decker and the Attorney General Office's Child Death Investigative Task Force of which Decker is a member. A total of five search warrants were issued, including one on Morton's home where the child's baby bathtub was recovered. Decker said the investigation determined the boy was not in the bath tub when the injuries occurred.
Morton is expected to make his first appearance in court on the warrant on Monday.
Decker reports Morton's two year son also had signs of abuse. Information on that case will be turned over to the State's Attorney's Office.