Thursday, July 26 2012 2:05 PM EDT2012-07-26 18:05:19 GMT
The sudden death of a toddler has a family grieving and authorities wondering whether it might be a crime. Metro police identified the 17-month-old girl as Eloise Costanza and said officers responded toMore >
The sudden death of a toddler has a family grieving and authorities wondering whether it might be a crime.More >
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The death of a 17-month-old baby is being blamed on the man who should have been caring for her.
Eloise Costanza died earlier this month, and Thursday, police charged the mother's boyfriend.
Jacob Hughes was the only person with Eloise when she suffered fatal skull, neck and rib injuries. Her death rattled friends and family, and his arrest could be the first step toward closure.
But it also could bring with it a new concern about whether it had to happen at all.
When Eloise died, it disturbed both family and police.
"The worst of the worst that could happen in the death of a 17-month-old child," said Metro Police Spokesman Don Aaron.
From the start, attention centered on Hughes, her mother's live-in boyfriend. At the couple's Bellevue apartment he cared for the little girl hours before her death while her mother, Neena, worked an afternoon shift.
While at work, Neena received a disturbing Facebook message from Jacob that said Eloise wasn't breathing.
Neena called 911 and quickly returned home.
There, rescuers found the baby unresponsive. Eloise later died at Vanderbilt from head trauma.
For police, Hughes' story didn't explain the baby's injuries.
"Hughes claimed that the child had fallen and the injury and the other visible injuries were a result of the fall," Aaron said. "That did not appear to be true to the paramedics nor to the first police officers who examined the child."
Hughes now faces murder and child abuse charges. But the story took another twist Thursday.
"Unfortunately in this case, the domestic assault file in this case reads like so many others," Aaron said.
Hughes also faces a domestic violence charge over an alleged run-in with his girlfriend.
"This victim was allegedly hit by Hughes in a dispute over the car being out of gasoline," Aaron said. "Punched her in the face, splitting her lip. That fight happened weeks before the death of Eloise Costanza."
It raises the question for police - did it have to happen at all?
Police credit a Youth Services detective, Sarah Bruner, who herself has a child, for quick action in this case.
Officers arrested Hughes after he appeared in court Thursday on the domestic violence charge.
He will be in court on the new charges next week.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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